Good Sunday morning, everyone! I’m going to talk about a topic that makes us somewhat uncomfortable … integrity. I often think of integrity as doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

Hypocrites they are called when they walk out of church dressed in their Sunday best and then treat their waiter or waitress badly at lunch.

We see it all the time when a politician, priest or our favorite actor get charges brought up against them for their immoral behavior toward another. And I try to remind myself all the time that we are all human and we will make mistakes, that’s part of life.

This world tells us it’s OK to cheat a little, overindulge, if it makes you feel good, then do it. Like everything in life these all have consequences that come with them.

Everyone makes mistakes, so being a person of integrity does not mean you haven’t committed a moral or ethical violation, ever. It means having the strength of character to learn from those “misbehaviors” and seek continual self-improvement.

Showing integrity means admitting to these mistakes and not being afraid to say, “I’m sorry, I got that wrong.” Words are powerful but only if you back them up with action.

Before we can even embrace the notion of integrity, we need to develop the ability to wrestle with the urge to rationalize away our underlying faults and the related consequences. The process that is the development of our character requires courage and transparency to forge true integrity.

The one place that I see so many people trying to get life right is at Second Church of Christ during their Celebrate Recovery program. Why is that? Transparency!

Every other week on Tuesday nights someone will get up and tell his or her story, giving life testimony. Transparently telling your own story is a great place to start. Sharing how your character has developed and strengthened over time will help others to see past the false fear that their integrity is only as strong as the secrets they keep.

We all need to get better about our integrity: keep your word, keep your commitments, pay attention to your environment, stay focused. Bring the same you wherever you are, regardless of the circumstance. You don’t leave parts of yourself behind. You don’t have a “work you,” a “family you” and a “social you.” You are YOU all the time.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone: 442-3512