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.

10 thoughts on “Money, Moral Conflicts, & The Blessing of Personal Integrity

  1. Jim Thornber says:

    You also received a clean conscience, an truck-load of joy unspeakable, and the Lord’s approval of your integrity. Thanks for your honesty in sharing your conversation with yourself. It is refreshing.

  2. thickgirl45 says:

    That was a good and noble thing you did, even though we are in a recession. Anybody else would have just kept going. At least we now there are still good people out here.

  3. Rich says:

    I could see you doing all of that. However, knowing you the way I do, I think had it been a larger amount you would not have wrestled as much. It’s always those small foxes that present us with the most challenges.

  4. Anonymous says:

    so Rich, do you mean if it was a larger amount he would have taken it without the moral dilema or are u saying if it was a larger amount it would have been easier for him to return it morally.

  5. bbgcmac says:

    Jim – thanks for your words of encouragement. You are right I felt so much better about doing the right thing that I did by getting to keep the extra money. i am most happy that my concious speaks to me regarding these and other topics I face on the daily. to me a sure sign of god departing from one’s spirit is when we face moral choices and hear nothing.

    Thickgirl45 – I think many would give the money back actually. I say that in light of hearing on radio and tv of people returning larger amounts of money even in the midst of tough economic times. as much as we need money to survive or maintain a certain lifestyle no matter what that level is – for many their morals and values supercede their temptation. I am sure anyone would be tempted. I’d rather live with a clean heart and I think I passed the test in this area. More test to come i am sure – i haven’t always passed either.

    You know what is really funny (not funny ha ha but funny strange) is that i have learned that there are other areas I may not be as hard core in when it comes to “integrity.” Some things I haven’t always seen in solid black and white areas like others I know… depending on the situation. Know what I mean? I think most of us are that way. Some things that mean a lot to me may not mean that much to you – or vice verse.

    Annonymous – I think Rich is saying (and he can answer for himself of course) that it would have been easier for me to give back bigger bucks than the smaller ones. When I let the scenario cross my mind I think he’s right. I would never want to lose a large amount of money that I or my loved ones needed and not have the blessing of someone returning it back to me. With that in mind I didn’t necessarily think the tournament director NEEDED that 20 – so it was a challenge for me to deal with the small foxes rich spoke about.

  6. Rich says:

    @anonymous – It was exactly as cmac stated. He’s got a big heart (i’ve known him a long time), so I think it would be harder for him to take something he knows someone would miss.

  7. YO SON Christian says:

    lol thats daddy for you. man i know you remember me giving that $230 ipod touch back to the guy @ school when i SO could have gotten away with it. but hey i might have enough for a new guitar this weekend. if i was with you i just woulda been like “oh daddy he told me that $20 was for the twisted ankle b4” xD hahahaha
    naw jk.
    good job Daddio~

  8. YO SON Christian says:

    i guess this giving crap runs in the family. haha.
    i just wish the ol ipod touch guy woulda handed ME the ipod back like “Happy Birthday” AHAAHAHAH

  9. bbgcmac says:

    I guess it DOES run in a family Lil C, thats a good thing!

    Love you man!

  10. Abbey says:

    you two are too cute 🙂

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