A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
I have a dear friend, a high school boy, who is interested in flying. So I invited his family and another family to dinner. The husband in that family is a seasoned professional pilot and earnest Christian, and I thought he could encourage my young friend in his quest.
The pilot spoke to the boy for a while on the importance of the flight checklist. It requires a walk-around inspection of the outside of the plane, and in the cockpit, a weights-and-balance check, the weather forecast, the radio frequencies, and a check-list for that specific model of airplane, arrival plates for the intended arrival airport, all before you call “clear prop” and start the engine. Following the checklist is an essential for any pilot, no matter how experienced.
(I remember my flying instructor emphasizing the importance of that check list. “If you skip it, or neglect any part of it, you may crash and burn, and that will ruin your whole day.” Believe me, I said to myself, I’m gonna use that checklist!)
Then Randy asked the question, “But there’s something much more important in safe flying than the checklist. What do you think it is?”
I blurted out, “Know where you’re going?”
“Well, yes, that’s important. But there’s something more important even than that. If you are going to be a good pilot, you must have integrity. . . . no matter how difficult, how humiliating, how great the pressures, you must always, always do the right thing.
I remembered a conversation, many, many years ago, with an airline pilot who flew a Boeing 747 on international flights for a major airline. He was deeply troubled about his relationship with the Lord because in his flight log years before, he’d falsified some hours of flight time as pilot-in-command. Because the airline had stringent testing and training requirement in place, passengers were not endangered. And he really was an excellent pilot. But his conscience tormented him. He had lost his integrity, and he didn’t know how to make it right.
So integrity is essential if you are going to fly a plane. But integrity is essential in every other human relationship.
In marriage? Marriage vows are a covenant, a solemn vow spoken in the presence of God, “I will love you and cherish you and protect you as long as we both shall live.”
In medicine? Many doctors take the Hippocratic Oath “to do good and do no harm.”
In politics? Every president of the United States makes this promise: “I do solemnly swear that I will .preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The lack of integrity in business deals, in friendships, and, alas, sometimes even among some Christians, is a major cause of heartache and loss. A woman who drives impaired by liquor has lost her integrity. Two teenager engaging in sexual activity with no thought of the possible consequence of the creation of a baby, an eternal soul, have lost their integrity. An employee who flagrantly ignores his job description to further his own ambitions has lost his integrity (and probably his job!)
King David said,
I will be careful to live a blameless life. . . .
I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. Psalm 101:2
May God help us to live lives of integrity, no matter the pressures, the inconveniences, the loss of money, the circumstances, even the disapproval of friends. God help me lead a life of integrity.