When it comes to being truthful we naturally check the box that says “Always.” Why is it so important to always be truthful? Is it as simple as because it is the right thing to do? Well, yes and no. Consider four reasons to be an automatic truth teller. First, we strive to be truthful because we know that is the example of our Lord. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” . . . Matthew 5:37. If we are to be imitators then we must tell the truth. Second, we pursue honesty in all situations because we want our witness to be above reproach 100% of the time. “So that you can remain blameless and pure among a warped and crooked generation.” Philippians 2:15. Our witness and productivity as a kingdom builder demands absolute integrity. Third, we aim for truthfulness because we are trying to set a good example for the students we lead, the parents we equip and the team we serve alongside. “The integrity of the upright shall guide them”. . . Proverbs 11:3. Fourth, we pursue honesty simply because the bible dictates that we be truthful. “Speaking the truth in love” . . . Ephesians 4:15. We should strive for character of honesty so pure that that being so seems like second nature or unnatural to do otherwise. We want to be careful not to do or say things that students recognize as less than truthful. Sometimes it is tempting to do something simply for shock-value rather than truth value. Be careful if you find yourself venturing down this road because the “shock” might be found in the pastor’s office and the “value” may be a lesson hard learned and pricy. Strive to hold yourself to the same truth standard as you do for students and volunteers. As I consider the simple Christian necessity of being a truthful person I am reminded of at least five situations when it is incredibly tempting to tell something other than or less than the truth.
- When you are about to look bad in front of the pastor and staff.
- When your integrity for telling the truth will be overshadowed by the consequences of the truth you tell.
- When someone you highly respect will probably think less of you after they hear the truth.
- When telling the truth will hurt someone you care deeply about.
- When telling the truth might lead to your being rightly or wrongly relieved of your ministry position.
From my own children to intern staff and students I have continually taught that there are three categories of lies. Consider the following and see if there be any truth to these three types of falsehoods. 1. WHOPPERS: Telling something you know is false. This is when you deliberately tell something that you know to be untrue. It could be completely fabricated, the opposite of what occurred or embellished beyond recognition. Example: Supervisor ask: Are all the chaperons on this list cleared through the required background check? Reply: Yes! (but you do not know that for certain – you only intend for each chaperon to be background checked before you leave on the trip- your hope is they will each be cleared but they are not yet cleared) 2. HALF BAKED: Telling only part of what you know to be true. This is perhaps a technical truth but because the information is incomplete the listener is led to believe something less than the truth. Anything less than the whole truth is simply not the truth. Example: Supervisor ask: Did you clean the vans after camp like the transportation policies require? Reply: Yes sir, I sure did. (but the rest of the story is that the vans were cleaned out but not until after the Sr. Adults used them.) 3. THE SOUND of SILENCE: Remaining silent when confronted with a search for the truth is equal to a lie. Keeping quiet in hope that no one will ask the right question requiring you to speak the truth has the same consequence as an outright lie. In this case, the silence leads directly to a different conclusion than if you had spoken up. When you know the truth about something and simply remain silent leading others to assume or conclude something other than the truth, it is a lie sown in silence. There is a lot of pressure to “produce” in student ministry but when it comes to being truthful about challenges, mishaps, wrong decisions or even results; there is never a good reason to be anything other than completely truthful, honest and forthright. There may be three categories of lies but there is only one category truth and He delights in lips that speak truth. “Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right.” Proverbs 16:13 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” Proverbs 12:22 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” I John 3:18