At a recent job interview I was asked to give my definition of integrity. What I said was, “Integrity to me is what I do when nobody is looking. It’s choosing to deal with a situation honestly, when there is nobody there watching.”
Although nobody is perfect, to me integrity is something that needs to be an integral part of who I am in every area of my life. It is not something to just put on and take off when I feel like it. I once had a Christian friend who was starting her own business, say to me that maybe she should think about developing some better ethics. But as Christians we are called to be ethical at all times, in all things.
“A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight. Proverbs 11:1
During my times as a newspaper reporter/columnist, I have had numerous opportunities to choose to do something dishonest that nobody would know about. One of the temptations that comes to us is, ‘But you deserve it. You’ve worked so hard and your employer doesn’t treat you fair.” It’s true. Sometimes our employers, our editors, those who are above us, do not treat us fairly. Sometimes we can be treated with disrespect or taken advantage of.
When I was freelancing as a reporter/columnist I was paid by the word. My editor did not give me a word count, so I had free reign as to length. A longer column or story would of course give me more revenue. Often, after I deducted my gas and my time, I found I was making very little money an hour. Sometimes it was less than minimum wage. It would have been easy to decide to let my column and articles run on with extra words so I could earn more money. However, I knew that was not right. Due to working under another newspaper editor, I had learned to cut out unnecessary words, to be concise; in fact I knew that in a newspaper most people won’t read an article past five hundred words. So I let God direct my word count and my articles and columns were usually on the shorter side. I wasn’t making much money per word! However, my heart felt right and that was worth more than to me than gold.
“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool. Proverbs 19:1
However as Proverbs 11:1 states, God delights in a “just weight,” so He actually does want me to be treated fairly. That is why I felt it was okay to ask my employers to increase the amount that they paid me by word and to give me a gas allowance. Both of which they did. There are also other things I learned while reporting to help me to earn a living with my words, one of which was that as June 2010 it became the law for both parties in a freelance writing agreement to have a signed contract. This is beneficial for freelance writers as it protects their time and investment and also is helpful to the employer in knowing exactly what they can expect. It is just good business for all.
Soon I hope to be sending my writing out again for publication in various forms. I am thankful for my time spent in the Reporter trenches where I learned that as I go about the business of writing with integrity it is God ‘who gives the increase.’ I Cor. 3:6.
“As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And You set me in Your presence forever.” Ps 41:12