Have you heard the news (ok, sports news) story about J.P. Hayes? (If not, read it here) Hayes is a golfer a Q School, which is where golfers attempt to qualify for the PGA Tour. Q School is an intense compitition because if you qualify, you play on the PGA Tour making good money for playing golf. Here’s what happened there. Hayes hit his ball out of bounds and began to use a nonconforming, non-approved golf ball for one hole. But Hayes did not know he was using it. When Hayes realized that the ball was not approved for play, he said something to the officials. Using the wrong ball was a 2 stroke penalty…using a non approved ball meant Hayes would be disqualified. Hayes owned up to using a non-approved ball and was disqualified for his honesty (Golfers have to police themselves).
People have been debated whether or not Hayes should have admitted using a non-approved ball. After all, it was one hole. How much of a difference could it make? Others have said ‘rules are rules’ and he should turn himself in. Is honesty a big deal when it’s the rule? While it’s assumed that all golfers would do the same (it’s the rules), if no one notices the infraction, would they admit it?
How do we do with honesty? As Christians, why do we allow dishonesty to creep into our lives? I knew Christians who cheated on test in college, copied term papers, cut corners, and were generally dishonest. If we look around at churches, we see pastors/leaders who allow dishonesty to creep into their ministries and their churches.
I remember a class in college where I didn’t know the answer on a multiple choice question and I was searching for the answer on the ceiling tiles above my head. At some point as I search for the answer in the air, I caught a glimpse of my neighbors paper and the very question that I was stuck on. I thought about using that answer (because I also knew it was correct once I saw it), but since I came to that conclusion from someone else, I left the answer blank and lost 2 points off the test.
Now, I don’t write that to pat myself on the back. But I write that to say that it could have been easy to put that answer down…but to do that would be cheating. It would be dishonest. Yes, it cost me some points, but I was able to say with integrity that the answers I gave were my answers.
Why is the J.P. Hayes such a story? I think it’s because we’ve made it culturally acceptable to cut corners or act dishonestly as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Rather than being honest, we lie, cheat, and cut corners to get ahead rather than doing the hard work to be successful. We have lost the meaning of INTEGRITY in our society. We just finished an election season where candidates talk about integrity, yet many ultimately get involved in some sort of scandal or compromises on their convictions.
What does it mean to live a life of integrity? What does that look like? How do we do at it? Why are we so quick to take short cuts for short term success rather than doing the hard work? Why does our culture exalt those who get away with cheating (again, look at some sports, politics). Why is this seen as being crafty or sly rather than dishonest?