Not long ago, a staff pastor of a church was reflecting on an experience he had as a young boy as he watched his father serve in full time ministry. One of the roles his father served in was as a chaplain who would speak to professional sports teams. This staff pastor, as a young boy, was an avid football fan and idolized a particular player…to the point that he wanted to do the things that this player did, which included eating the cereal that he ate. That’s right. One day, while he was in the supermarket with his mom, this particular football player’s picture was on a box of Wheaties. For most of you, you know what they call Wheaties: the “breakfast of champions”. When this young boy saw his idol on that box, he started to consume that cereal with a vengeance.
Let’s fast forward about two years. His dad, as part of his chaplain duties, was given the privilege of speaking to the team for which this young boy’s idol played. His dad took him on the trip. They were invited to join the team for breakfast. This young boy was crazy out of his mind. He could not believe that he was going to be given the chance to meet his idol.
Spotted the Cereal
As they arrived for breakfast, served in a private room buffet style, he saw his idol eating cereal. He nervously walked toward him and noticed that, instead of eating Wheaties, he was eating Raisin Bran. He was puzzled to say the least. He got up the nerve to approach him, say hello and asked him why he wasn’t eating Wheaties. The response he received floored him: “Hey, that cereal is nasty. I don’t eat that stuff.”
To say the air come out of this young boy’s balloon is an understatement. He couldn’t understand it. His dad used this moment over that breakfast to tell him: “Son, be careful whom you put on a pedestal. Because often, they will fall off.” This young man learned something. All this football player wanted to do was to allow his image to be used for personal gain, even if it meant being deceptive.
Scripture has something to say about integrity and honesty:
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.– Proverbs 10:9
Now you might be thinking “is this really that big if a deal?” Integrity is precious and fragile. As a parent, we are regularly under this microscope. As scripture says, we are walking this daily…with our kids…and all who see us.
To Be Found Out
Our motivation must be to NOT be found crooked. But to act in such a manner that, whenever someone looks at us closely, what will be found are ways that are straight, honest, and without blame.
That does not mean that we will be without error. Error is indeed part of the human condition and this broken world within which we live. It does mean that we must consider our words and our actions. This sports figure determined that his words and actions did not need to line up…and it didn’t matter. Well, maybe it didn’t matter to him. But, in the long run, it truly does matter. It certainly mattered to this young impressionable boy for whom this well-known sports figure has long lost his luster, his trustworthiness. This is what happens over time if your ways are crooked. You will eventually lose what you thought you had…respect and trustworthiness. It’s not worth it. So turn in the right direction now…and keep straight. Your work colleagues, friends, children, and your spouse will not only take note…they will also be blessed.