Last night I had dinner with my wife and kids at a local pizza place. While waiting on our order and catching up on the day’s events, up walked one of my wife’s fifth grade students along with his father.
The kid is one of my favorites. An eleven year old, all boy, named Reeves.
Turns out Reeves had to miss recess yesterday. Actually, he didn’t have to. He chose to.
Seems Mrs. i2i busted the class for talking in the hallway when they were clearly told to shush.
When it came time for recess, the kids were faced with a choice. Those who had talked had to sit on a small brick wall for the entire twenty minutes. Those who had not talked were free to play.
Rather than point out who should be punished, my wife decided to throw out a character test. “You know if you talked or not. If you did, I need you on the wall. You know who you are. I am leaving you on the honor system.”
Ouch. Don’t you just hate it when the teacher does that.
My man Reeves chose to sit on the wall along with a few of his honest friends. Talk about fifth grade self leadership.
The truth is, leadership is lot like my wife’s class. Every day is filled with character tests. And most of the time we find ourselves on the honor system.
Whenever we exercise self leadership, we move closer to integrity. Whenever we don’t, we move toward pain and frustration.
We all make mistakes. Reeves did, just like I do each day. But character is not merely exposed through our mistakes. It is also forged by how we respond to them.
I suspect Reeves will think twice about talking in the hallway next time. And you can be certain that doing what is right will be easier for him, because he has already chosen to take the high road.
By the way, Reeves was smiling at supper last night.
Why? Because he had a clear conscience. That is what goes with a strong character.
If there are areas in your life where you are failing the character test, maybe it is time to follow Reeve’s lead and ‘sit yourself on the wall.’
I will leave you on the honor system.
Wow, what a great example for us all. Didn’t Jesus something about faith like a child??? Thanks for the excellent post today. I will have to remember the next time I screw up to sit myself on the wall…
Got to love the kids Jason!
Wow! How thankful I am that Reeves’ teacher knows the importance of honest and integrity! I wish there were more educators like Mrs. i2i.
As most of us have learned firsthand, there aren’t always immediate benefits for practicing integrity. In fact, there are times when others don’t recognize our integrity at all. It’s those times when we have to rely solely on the satisfaction of knowing our conscious is clear and our character is strong!
Knowing that Reeves chose to tell the truth speaks volumes about his strong character.
I came across a verse earlier in the week which reminds me that our efforts in the character category may not be recognized in worldly eyes, but will somehow be rewarded by the One who matters most. Proverbs 2:7 – He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
By the way, thanks for your wisdom this week. I needed it more than you can imagine!
I’m so thankful and blessed to be your sister!
I feel like I need to be sitting on the wall a lot lately. Just an internal thing I guess. Sometimes life is so painful and I find that I am usually the hardest on myself at times. Great post Randy!
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I guess it does not get much simpler than that.
Good reminder Stephen!
I happen to know Reeves personally and I concur that his character and integrity are in check! I love this article – great post today i2i man!!
Reeves has a great teacher Basket Girl!