Money, Moral Conflicts, & The Blessing of Personal Integrity

 $20 dollar bill

Ok, so I worked my ASS off this past week officiating middle and high school basketball games.  It’s been a marathon ride to say the least.  Since the first of December I have done 42 games.  Yes I said 42 which includes 18 over the past weekend.  Depending on the school, or the tournament the pay can vary.  But steady work is always good regardless especially in these economic times.  As an official, I am basically an independent contractor.  To get games, people have to recognize you for being consistently good and diligent in your duties.  (Not to mention the politics at times.)  I am still getting to know people though my name and reputation are getting out there. 

I found myself having a dillemma when I received my final pay for the games over the weekend.  The tournament director overpaid me by $20.   That’s easy to understand considering it was  a terribly long weekend for him.  Not only did he organize and direct the games, he also coached his own set of kids who made it to the finals.  He was trying to be in 10 places at the same time.  Well he paid me my dividens as we made small talk about the tournament.  He then thanked me and went about his business of putting up chairs and heading the cleaning crew.  Inwardly it seemed as if he may have gave me slightly more than he was supposed to.  I folded they money and slid it in my jacket pocket and walked away.

Once I got to the car, I counted the money to make sure.  YEP he gave me an extra $20.  What was I to do now?  Immediately I went evangelical stereotypical greedy excuse making Christian and said to myself, “Gee what a blessing!  Shoot I can use that extra money.  I’ll consider it a tip for all of my efforts!”

Then my conscious is like, “Negro please.  That ain’t no blessing.  The man made a mistake.  Give him that money back.”

I’m pacing in front my car, knowing what the right thing to do was, but trying to convince myself why I shouldn’t do it.  It didn’t work.

This is what came into my spirit.

“If you believe in the universal laws of fundamental right and wrong, karma and goodness, then you understand the blessing that was already before you as you were able to work these and many other games in the first place.  Your body is healthy, car is running, got a roof over your head and people like the job you do.  Are you willing to sell your personal integrity for $20?” 

The answer was a very easy one.  “Hell no!

With that I walked back into the gym and sought the director out.  He was paying some other officials and when I got his attention, I whispered into his ear, “Here, you paid me over by $20.”  A happy yet exhausted man’s eyes lit up.  He chuckled at me as if I were some kinda wierdo and handed the money back to me with these words.  “Merry Christmas.”

Surprised I said, “Ahh man thanks!”  I walked out the gym with the extra loot, thinking about how it would suffice as gas money.  But I admit that the money itself paled in comparison to that which I gained that cannot be paid for, my self respect.