Does Integrity Ever Win Over Popularity?

I believed it had philosophical substance, so used it. Was my first sermon, age 16, at Zion Congregational Church in Portland, Oregon, across from Irving Park. Mention that because the quote had some venue relevance, since Irving Park was where I played my first baseball game.

I had read Billy Southworth’s TEN COMMANDMENTS OF BASEBALL. Knew one of his “Ten Commandments” had biblical referencing, but didn’t know if the other 9 had any place in living. In fact, I don’t remember the other 9.

However, this one fit my sermon idea from Philippians that said, we are to press on in life. Keep on keeping on, so to speak. Even more, so to live.

The commandment goes like this: “If what you’ve done yesterday looks big to you, then you haven’t done enough today.”

Well, I liked it. So did my parents and aunts and uncles at Zion. In fact, our family, the Schnell’s, made up a good portion of the membership.

Over the years, especially from Bill Coffin [the guy I quote the most and most frequently] put it this way: “Do more than live up to your minimum.” Or, ‘Don’t establish mediocrity a moral principle.” Or, “When you look at him, there’s less than meets the eye.”

Anyway. Yesterday I saw part of the Cubs game. In the 8th inning, the Cubs were headed to a Wrigley Field loss. The Nationals had on their first two batters, no outs. Then, BANG. The Chicago catcher and first baseman pulled off their trick play perfectly. The toss was perfect, the tag of the runner at first even better. OUT!

Why all this? On a Saturday morning I should be working on tomorrow’s sermon, the glass-eye sermon I so love. Instead, I read about the Cubs game and snap a finger, Joe Maddon, the Chicago Manager, said this when asked about the toss to first base in the 8th inning,

“Maddon said the play fit the philosophy he imparts on his players: ‘Never be afraid of making a mistake if it’s the right thing to do.’”

THAT matches with Southworth, almost word for word.

Do the right thing. THAT’S for integrity not political tilting to savor popularity. Tell me. Do you know any politician who chooses integrity over popularity? Or. To be blunt, any ministers?

I’ve just finished writing my memoir. Chose the right thing. Sure, there’ll be some who read it who will scourge me. But, you know what? Down deep, I really don’t care. Well, correction: I do care, but not enough to delete that paragraph.

So, on a Saturday, ready for my glass eye sermon. I think of Billy Southworth and Joe Maddon. But even more, of myself and all of you—for I can see you. I really can. Even more though, when I look in the mirror I see me. And hope, popularity never trumps integrity. [Oops!]


About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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