*The below passage is a composite of information retrieved from Dave Ramsey and the author of The Millionaire Mind, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley.
I was actually doing a 10-day reading plan on what the Holy Bible says about money. Today's topic was all about integrity and how it plays a large role in the lives of those who have lasting wealth. It also talks about the role that integrity plays in all areas of your life, not just finances.
When I truly looked at my life....When I truly looked at the life of those around me, both personally and in the public eye, I can truly say that this philosophy holds true.
There is a definite correlation (my husband's statistics class is having an effect on me) between LASTING happiness/success and integrity. I know several people who have made loads of money, moved up quickly in business and have acquired what appears to be a great family unit. Those that lacked integrity have always fallen in the end. They've gotten demoted, lost their families, gone to jail, become mentally depressed, etc.
Integrity is not all about being a 'good person.' Frank Lucas (American Gangster....duh) was a great person, if you look at how he fed the poor people in Harlem and employed people in various businesses around New York and New Jersey. He took care of his mother and made sure that all of his family wanted for nothing. However, his integrity lacked. Sure, he cared about his family. Most of the other 'good' things he did were mainly used as a means to cover up his lack of integrity. In the end, Frank Lucas' entire empire was taken down and he spent many years of his life behind prison bars. (This is an extreme case, but this philosophy holds true in less dramatic situations as well....think along the lines of the mistress, the adulterer, the person who doesn't pay tithes because they have too many bills, the person who does the least amount of work to be viewed as 'doing their job' at work, the person who steps on whomever is in their way in order to get to the top, etc., etc.).
I am far from being rich and not even close to being a Millionaire, but I do attribute the things that I do have to my level of integrity. I also attribute my deficiencies to the areas where I lack integrity.
So much was going on in the beginning of 2014 that I never took the time to sit down and map out my goals for the year. Despite a few setbacks, I was able to have a very successful 2013, achieving almost every goal I set out to achieve (some things are just out of our hands and must be turned completely over to God.) I've decided that in 2014, I would like to work on my integrity. With a daughter on the way, I really want to be an example of how a woman should be. I want her to grow up loving and admiring me, not just because I am her mother, but because I am strong, driven and truly a woman of integrity. (see commentary below)
In his book The Millionaire Mind, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley studied the habits of several hundred individuals with a net worth of at least $10 million. He really wanted to find out what makes the typical millionaire tick and uncover any common characteristics that contributed to their wealth.
As he examined the results of his interviews and surveys, Stanley found a definite connection between personal integrity and financial success. In fact, he ranked integrity as a prime predictor of wealth potential - even higher than an individual's chosen business or industry.
In other words, integrity matters!
The reason so many people struggle with building wealth is that they also struggle with integrity. They lack a basic commitment to honesty. That's a strong statement. In fact, it may be so strong that you think it doesn't apply to you. But if you're breathing and if your heart is beating, you have wrestled with being completely truthful at one time or another - and some of those struggles probably had something to do with money.
Simply put, there are two ways to make money and build wealth. You can rely on dishonesty, or you can stay completely committed to integrity.
Dishonest money may seem to come more easily, but it never lasts. It dwindles away like sand running through our fingers. But honest money, gained through hard work and investment over time, grows. It provides security - not to mention a clear conscience.
Given the current harsh economic conditions, it may be tempting to compromise integrity for short term gain.
In the long run, however, economic gain is easier and more psychologically rewarding if one is truthful. Millionaires rated integrity (being honest with all people) as the number one factor out of 30 that explains their economic success. Note that these 733 respondents represented the top 1% of the wealth holders in America. Jon, one of the respondents and a wealthy entrepreneur, attributed much of his success to what his father taught him about integrity: Never lie. Never tell one lie. If you tell one lie, you will have to eventually tell fifteen more to cover up the first lie. In turn, each of these 15 requires 15 more or 225 lies and on and on.
Integrity matters - in your finances and in every other part of your life - because a moral breakdown is not a victimless crime. Dishonesty will deeply wound you and those around you. Unless you hold yourself to an ultra-high standard, you will walk through life with an emotional and spiritual limp.
Fortunately, it's not too late to correct course. If you've skimped on integrity in the past, now's the time to come clean - to yourself, to others and to God. Repair that chink in your armor today.