My fascination with Abraham Lincoln started at a young age. I pulled a hefty tome about his assassination off my parent’s bookshelf while in fourth grade and immediately immersed myself in the story. Now I am engaged in another lengthy account, this time about Lincoln’s remarkable talent in working with an array of disparate personalities and over-inflated egos. His integrity while working with a “team of rivals” was, as author Doris Kearnes Goodwin notes, one of his greatest strengths. Since synonyms for integrity include honor and truthfulness, the moniker “Honest Abe” fit him perfectly.
Prayer for Integrity
It’s tempting to view such integrity, particularly among politicians, as a thing of the past. With access to instant news and a wider sphere of people able to add their two cents’ worth of tweets and posts, maintaining a handle on the truth is getting trickier. The press in Lincoln’s day was none too genteel, however, and opinions, disagreements, and caustic criticism were rife. Lincoln coped by keeping his own ego in check, and by relying heavily on the grace of humor. It’s a great formula for integrity stemming from a vital sense of perspective.
The educator and writer, Parker Palmer, once observed that leaders of any sort have the capacity to either shed light or to cast a shadow on their followers. It’s as true of a pastor or principal as it is a president. Integrity is about shedding light through honor, trustworthiness, and the commitment to doing our inner work. The latter is especially important, Parker notes, in an extroverted world in which image and “personality” take center stage. Integrity may not be a glitzy virtue, but is certainly one that never goes out of style.
Engage your class or family in a discussion about a person who models integrity. What is it about that person that inspires respect and warrants admiration?