- Integrity is the foundation of our character and all other virtues.
- Integrity is not doing just that which is legal, but that which is moral or Christlike.
- Integrity makes decisions based on eternal implications.
- Integrity is disclosing the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
- Integrity knows no alibis or excuses.
- Integrity is keeping our covenants and our commitments, even in times of inconvenience.
- Integrity is not governed by the presence of others. It is internally, not externally driven.
Elder Tad R. Callister of the Quorum of the Seventy addressed BYU students in the Marriott Center Tuesday encouraging them to be men and women of integrity.
“Integrity is a purity of mind and heart that knows no deception, no excuses, no rationalization, nor any coloring of the facts,” he said. “It is an absolute honesty with one’s self, with God, and with our fellow man. Even if God blinked or looked the other way for a moment it would be choosing the right, not merely because God desires it, but because our character demands it.”
Elder Callister told a story of Elder Sterling W. Sill, who when he bought a soda from a machine at a gas station, the dime was returned. He pocketed it, then heard the still small voice say, “Sterling, are you really going to be a thief for a dime?” Elder Sill replied, “Of course not,” and returned the dime to the station attendant.
“Does our integrity, our honor have a purchase price?” Elder Callister asked. “A dime, a thousand dollars, the approval of our peers, some physical pleasure or temporary recognition? Is there some point at which our integrity can be purchased, or is it priceless – not for sale at any price?”
Elder Callister then addressed seven principles of integrity. Excerpts from his remarks follow.
1. Integrity is the foundation of our character and all other virtues.
“In 1853 the Saints commenced the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. For the better part of seven long, hard years the Saints dug the excavations and laid the foundation, over eight feet deep – all made of sandstone. One day the foreman came to Brigham Young with this devastating news – there were cracks in the blocks of sandstone. Brigham Young was faced with this dilemma: One, do the best they could to patch up the cracks and build a temple of much less weight and grandeur than anticipated or two, rip out seven years of work and repair it with a granite foundation that could support the magnificent temple God envisioned for them. Fortunately, Brigham Young chose the latter course.
“Integrity is the foundation upon which character and a Christlike life are built. If there are cracks in that foundation, then it will not support the weight of other Christlike attributes that must be built upon it. How can we be humble if we lack the integrity to acknowledge our own weaknesses? How can we develop charity for others if we are not totally honest in our dealings with them? How can we repent and be clean if we only partially disclose the truth to our bishop? At the root of every virtue is integrity.”
2. Integrity is not doing just that which is legal, but that which is moral or Christlike.
“It may be legal to have premarital relationships; it may be legal to commit adultery; it may be legal to gossip, but none of those actions is moral or Christlike. Integrity is not just adherence to the legal code, but to the higher moral code. It is as Abraham Lincoln suggested – living in accord with the ‘better angels of our nature.’”
3. Integrity makes decisions based on eternal implications.
“The man of the world has his heart focused upon his temporal net worth; the man of integrity has his heart focused upon his spiritual net worth. No doubt there will be a lot of millionaires, even billionaires who in the life to come will find themselves spiritually bankrupt, and a lot of goodly Saints who with meager net worths will become spiritual billionaires – discovering that integrity has been the wisest investment of all. Those with integrity have that eternal foresight.
“Integrity is not shortsighted – it is not just a temporary change of behavior; it is a permanent change of nature.”
4. Integrity is disclosing the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“I believe the Lord can live with our weaknesses and mistakes, provided there is a desire and effort to repent. That is what the Atonement is all about. But I do not believe that he can easily tolerate a deceitful heart or lying tongue.
“The question is often asked: when should we confess our sins? When the sin is of such a serious nature that it might warrant a disciplinary action, or it continues to linger in our mind so we cannot find peace. If we then fail to confess, our spiritual horizons become limited. It is like being surrounded by a circular, impenetrable wall. In such a circumstance, we have some limited room in which to move, but we are trapped. We will look in vain for a slit through which we can squeeze, an opening through which we can escape, an end around which we can travel. There are no end runs, no secret openings, no hidden passages. Years of service do not obviate confession; years of abstinence do not erase its need; one-on-one pleading with the Lord is not a substitute. Somewhere, sometime, somehow we must face the wall square up and climb it. That is confession. That is total integrity – disclosing the whole truth and nothing but the truth. When we do this, our spiritual horizons become unlimited.”
5. Integrity knows no alibis or excuses.
“There is something ennobling about the man or woman who admits his weaknesses or takes the blame square-on without excuse or alibi. On multiple occasions Joseph Smith recorded his weaknesses in the Doctrine and Covenants for all to read. What does this tell us – it tells us he was not perfect, but it also tells us he had nothing to hide – he was a man of integrity. What does this do for his credibility when he tells the story of the first vision or the account of Moroni’s visitation? It tells us that we can trust him; that we can believe his every word because he is indeed, a man of integrity. As to George Miller, the Lord said, ‘He may be trusted because of the integrity of his heart.’ And so it is with Joseph Smith. And so it can be with us.”
6. Integrity is keeping our covenants and our commitments, even in times of inconvenience.
“Integrity is the courage to do right regardless of the consequence, and regardless of the inconvenience.”
7. Integrity is not governed by the presence of others. It is internally, not externally driven.
“Elder Marion D. Hanks tells of the man and his small son who stopped at an isolated cornfield on a remote country road and eyed the delicious corn beyond the fence. The father, after looking in front of him, behind him, to the left of him, and to the right of him, started to climb the fence and take some ears of corn. His son looked at him and said reproachfully, ‘Dad, you forgot to look up.’
“In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Polonius says to his son Laertes: ‘To thine ownself be true and it must follow as the night the day; thou canst not be false to any man.’ What wonderful counsel! We have a choice – we can either seize the moment and take control of our lives – or become mere puppets to our environment and our peers.
“A lack of integrity is a major problem in the world. That deficiency undermines every business transaction, and every spousal, family, and social relationship it touches. It is a concern of every profession. There are attorneys who bill for hours of service which they never rendered; physicians who recommend surgeries and procedures that were never needed; teachers who fail to prepare lessons, but deposit their paychecks just the same, and unfortunately, politicians whose integrity is governed by popular polls rather than eternal principles. It is a day and age when men and women of integrity are in desperate demand but in short supply.
“May the integrity of our souls have a sign which reads in bold, black letters, ‘NOT FOR SALE AT ANY PRICE.’
“May we all become men and women of integrity, not because we have to, but because we want to. The Lord announced the reward for those who do so: ‘Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest … and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice … they are accepted of me.’ May we all be accepted of God because we are striving to become men and women of integrity.”