Monday, July 8, 2013

Yes = Yes

"But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No', 'No.', Matthew 5:37

The above bit of scripture is really an important statement for each of us to take to heart if we are to be marked as a person of integrity. It is telling us that we need to make sure that our actions match well what we say. When we say one thing and do another, even when there is no intent to deceive, our integrity can take a hit. Sometimes we can run into trouble when we unwittingly bite off more than we can chew. In the moment we make promises that our busy schedules and existing commitments just cannot allow us to keep. I think that too often we get into trouble because we do not want to disappoint others, so we make promises that are unrealistic or impractical or short-sighted. I can share one anecdote from my experience.

Recently I had arranged to have a contractor come to my house to do some work. He only did this kind of work part time, after he got off from his full-time job. I knew this and told him that I was happy to accomodate his schedule. I told him that there was no rush. I only asked that he simply let me know when he wanted to schedule the work. Yet time after time he would tell me that he was going to come out to the house to start the work and then he wouldn't show up. He never called beforehand to tell me that he had a conflict in his schedule. He just gave me an excuse the next day and the game repeated. Even though he is a decent man and he eventually completed the work skillfully, his reputation and his integrity took a hit with me because he did not let his 'yes' be 'yes'. The man was overloaded with his existing commitments, but he didn't want to disappoint me. So he made statements that a realistic assessment of his schedule would have told him he shouldn't have.

It takes a very long time to make our reputations and just a moment to do them great damage.