Saturday, October 17, 2015
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” — C. S. Lewis
Years ago (during the ’70’s), I was the administrator of a 200 bed, locked, mental facility in Los Angeles. We worked with a group called SPAN for Special Project for Alcohol and Narcotics. Basically, we gave jobs to convicted felons whose crimes where non-violent and involved alcohol and narcotics. We had a very good experience and got a number of very good employees from SPAN. However, one of the guys was just a little too good. He was a giant of a man, and no one ever gave him any grief. He was also passionate about helping our patients—a little too passionate. He found out one day that about six of our male patients had never seen the ocean and we were only ten miles away from it. So, all on his own, one Saturday, he piled all six of the patients into the back of his pick-up truck (just sitting in the bed of the truck) and drove them to the beach. He did not know that this was not allowed, that having them in the back of his truck with no seat belts or other protection was a stupid thing to do, and he did not know that the medication they were on made them extremely sensitive to the sun. We had to hospitalize three of them on their return for severe sunburn. They all had a good time and loved the trip. The only problem was that I had to fire the guy for being too nice and ignoring all the rules and safety concerns. Remember, this guy was a giant of a man who was a convicted felon. I was more than a little frightened, but I had to fire him or risk losing our certification. I called him into my office, sat him down, and said right off that I had to let him go. He said nothing, and I explained why what he did was so dangerous even though he meant well. I was expecting him to explode into violence and attack me. What happened was that he started to cry for just a moment, wiped his eyes, stood up and offered me his hand. He thanked me for giving him a chance and for the lessons I had taught him. He said that he never thought about the consequences of his actions and that was part of what sent him to prison in the first place, and he would be much better about that in the future. He also thanked me for showing him that it was important to do the right thing (firing him) and for having the courage to do it. He walked out of my office with his head held high and expecting better things of himself in the future. Knowing what the right thing to do is usually never hard, doing it is what’s difficult, but I did what I had to do, and learned some lessons myself. Christ calls us to always do the right thing, the right thing that He showed us, taught us, commanded us, and forgiving those who were crucifying him from the cross to which He was nailed couldn’t have been a much better lesson. We are to love even if it scares us and follow Him when it means picking up a cross. He believes in us, if we believe in Him—we need to love and forgive even when it hurts.