Everything he tried, failed. He took over the family farm, struggling to make it work. He invested in schemes that would make him rich but instead broke him. He and a friend opened a men’s clothing store and went bankrupt, leaving him with a debt that would require 12 years of his life paying off creditors. Politics never crossed his mind until one day a man named Tom Pendergast asked if he wanted to be a judge. 

Pendergast controlled the Democratic Party of Missouri. People owed him their vote, so anyone he chose was sure to be elected. The person selected by Pendergast was a man of high integrity. Oddly enough, Pendergast knew that before he picked him. Not long afterward, Pendergast would pick the judge to be the next senator. The tag people put on him was, “Boss Pendergast’s Errand Boy.” His name was Harry S. Truman.

However, Turman was a man of integrity and tried to lose the tag of the people. When Pendergast died, he decided to run for re-election. The newspapers overwhelmingly picked him to go down in defeat without Pendergast’s support. Being a man of high principles, he ran his campaign outlined under five points. From the minutes of the campaign meeting: “(1) The Senator will not engage in personalities and asks his friends to do the same. Avoid mentioning the senator’s opponents in any way. (2) Avoid getting into controversial issues (i.e., Pendergast). Stick to Truman, his record as judge, as a senator, as a military man. (3) While others discuss issues not involved in the primary, each worker will carefully avoid getting into those traps. (4) The press is a function of our free institutions. If they are wrong in their attitude, try to make them see the light, but under no circumstances attack them. (5) Political parties are essential to our republic, our nation, and we must not attack them. What we’re doing is to show by our actions what we think our Party is destined to do. Provide basic laws for a more abundant life and the happiness and security of our people.” (Accidental President, pg. 81)

Harry S. Truman would win the election and shortly become the Vice-President of the United States. In a twist of fate, a man who never intended on politics, a man who no one expected to amount to much, would soon become the President of the United States at a time the world was in deep despair. He made his way up every rung of the ladder, not because he wanted the glory, not because he desired the power, and not because of ego. He moved up because people trusted him, he cared about them, and the people knew he was a sincere man of integrity.

Integrity, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” 

There are many things in this world over which we have little control. We have no choice in picking our parents, the color of our skin, where we grow up, or how tall we may be. Life always has things over which we have no control or say so. However, when it comes to our character, we have one-hundred percent control. We decide if we are going to lie or not. We make decisions that promote trust or distrust. We choose which road in life to take. 

There are times that it is tough or unpopular to hold to higher standards than those around us. It can be challenging to say “no” when everyone else is saying “yes.” Standing up for what we believe is right is not always the popular choice. However, in most cases, a person of integrity even receives the respect of his enemies. 

It takes effort to remain a person of integrity in a world that is pulling the other way. Lying or telling half-truths have become a part of many people’s daily life. Gossiping infects social media. People seem to desire to try to find fault in others, overlooking anything good that might appear. 

A person of integrity is not only evident in how we act but is apparent in how we perceive and treat others. Fairness, trustworthiness, respect, truthfulness, and understanding are all areas of what it means to be a person of integrity. If our lives exhibit deceit, lies, envy, hatefulness, or the desire to degrade others, we are far from being a person of integrity. 

Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (NASB) In short, it takes effort on our part to be people of integrity.

Harry S. Truman received the respect of world leaders due to his character. People respected him because they knew he was a man of high character. Well, there was one person who never really liked him, his mother-in-law. She never felt like Harry was the best man for her daughter, Bess. I guess some will dislike even a person of high character. You can’t win them all, but neither did Jesus. All we can do is be like Him and let God do the rest.

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ


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