This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Integrity Study - Day one

So of course today didn't go exactly as scheduled. Ponito is my early bird and this morning he wanted me to give him a fauxhawk (the clippers broke so I've been cutting his hair with scissors so this takes quite awhile. The first time I just left it all long on top. I got distracted by this and didn't make sure the girls were up and moving until 9am (Daddy woke them at 8am, but they went back to sleep). Bob was surly and difficult to get moving so we weren't ready to go until 9:30am - when we were supposed to be done! Plus most didn't have breakfast, clothes for the day or chores started. *sigh*

I'm really excited about the Integrity Study though so I forged ahead.
Please forgive any and all historical inaccuracy in this - that wasn't really the point! I tried to limit just reading the study and focus on discussions. I think we had some great insights.

We started by talking about what things are important in a leader (leader on a group project, superior in the military, boss at work...). The kids knew what the study was about so it took awhile to get them to say anything beyond honesty and integrity!

After surveying thousands of people around the world and performing more
than 400 written case studies, James Kouzes and Barry Posner identified those characteristics most desired in a leader. In virtually every survey, honesty or integrity was identified more frequently than any other trait.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? If people are going to follow someone, whether into battle or in business or ministry, they want assurance that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that he or she will keep promises and follow through with commitments.

The Integrity of Samuel

In light of this research, Israel’s high regard for Samuel comes as no surprise. Samuel was a man who exuded integrity. Nowhere is this best illustrated than in 1 Samuel 12:1-4: Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right.”
“You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

During his farewell speech, after having led Israel for decades, Samuel promised to repay anything he had unjustly taken from anyone. What a promise! Even more impressive was the people’s response. Not one person rose up to make a claim against Samuel.

We talked about how great Samuel was, but quickly went off on what seemed to be a tangent about Hitler being a good leader (Bob is playing at "Evil" being a good thing right now - her alleged goal is to take over the world!). This actually really helped us talk about good leaders. I pointed out that Hitler was a very strong leader. Most of his followers believed he was right and followed him not out of fear (although that was certainly a big part of it), but also because he was a very charismatic leader who knew how to influence people's thinking. He took full advantage of people's greed and feelings of superiority. He encouraged it.

Hitler told people that Gypsies were lying thieves who were inferior to his followers. Bear wanted to know if that was true about the Gypsies. I told him there was probably some truth to it, but that a lot of it was perception. We talked about a Bugs Bunny cartoon that makes me cringe to watch it. There's a witch on a broom chasing Bugs Bunny, and she keeps running into things. She says something along the lines of, "Tee hee, women drivers!" This was funny because in those days women were considered to be inferior and bad drivers. It was acceptable to make fun of them and perpetuate this stereotype. Nowadays we know (well insurance raters know) that women are considered to be better drivers than men. The point was you can make people believe a lot of things.

We also talked about taxes. How amazing was it that not only did Samuel live such an exemplary life, but he must have charged taxes and done king/government things which were not popular with everyone and his people still could not find anything negative to say about him?

We talked about why people didn't get mad at Samuel for making people pay taxes.

We talked about a mentally ill person who recently deliberately crashed his plane into a building because he was unhappy about his taxes (this happened near to where we live). We talked about being so above reproach that even mentally ill people had nothing bad to say about you.

I questioned why did the kids think that people didn't mind paying taxes to the king, but didn't want to pay taxes to the government. Bear's theory was because they were used to not having a say in whether or not they paid taxes. You paid them because the king said so. So then we talked about the King of England during the War of 1812. (Now here I have to admit we used what we knew about the king from Disney's Pocahantas 2 where the king was portrayed as an inbred, crazy loon who thought all Native Americans were savage heathens and bear baiting was good clean fun.) We decided that people rebeled against the king because they wanted taxation representation, but that maybe they didn't like this king because he didn't have integrity.

Samuel’s honesty and personal integrity permeated every area of his life. These two characteristics directed how he regarded his possessions, his business dealings and his treatment of those who were weaker than himself. Samuel held himself accountable to the people he led. He opened himself up to the scrutiny of everyone with whom he had ever had dealings. As a result of this practice, Samuel’s leadership has become legendary as this story has been told and retold throughout the centuries.

People want to know that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that leaders will keep promises and follow through on commitments. Promises and commitments are significant, though, in our day of Machiavellian ethics, it seems that they have become optional. We often seem more concerned with convenience and performance. We give lip-service to the importance of character, but we have the idea that when things get tough, the rules can be changed and commitments and covenants may be discarded at will.
Here we talked about how we often make choices because they are convenient, or it's too hard, or "everybody is doing it." I tried to lightly touch on some specific instances of lack of integrity with regards to chores, then we moved quickly on.

But the Bible makes clear just how important our covenants are. Throughout the Scriptures, God focuses on the fact that he is a God who makes and keeps his covenants, that he can be trusted (1 Chronicles 16:15; Psalm 105:8). God can be trusted because he is trustworthy.

The we began talking about whether or not the Israelites would trust Samuel's sons as leaders. They grew up with Samuel as a good example of what integrity and good leadership was. I also started comparing leadership to parenting.

I talked about Grandma's situation. How she was raised by a mother who thought she was gawky, stupid, ugly and would never marry, but would be alone her whole life with no family (Grandma's allergic to cats). That self-image will be with her the rest of her life.

I was raised the opposite. I was told that I was beautiful, smart, and could do almost anything I wanted to. When I raise my child who is 4 inches taller than I am (just like Grandma was 4 inches taller than her mom), am I going to teach my child that she is gawky and too big? No, of course not.

Samuel's sons were raised with integrity, and they will most likely be kings with integrity.

We talked about raising kids with integrity. How that is my responsibility. I don't remember how it came up, but at one point Bob made the comment that of course she knows she can trust me to never get rid of her no matter what. Parents don't get rid of their kids. WHOA!

I pointed out that like Samuel's sons, Bob and Ponito are going to act the way they were taught. Bear and Kitty have it harder because they did not start out being raised with integrity (in hindsight it might not have been a good choice for me to word it in quite that way). They have to work harder at acting with integrity because that was not how they were taught.

That’s the point: it always comes down to the issue of character, not just words. Biblical integrity is not just doing the right thing; it’s a matter of having the right heart and allowing the person you are on the inside to match the person you are on the outside. This is how God is. This is how his people should be.

Perhaps a good word to think of is “consistency.” There must be consistency between what is inside and what is outside. God is totally consistent. His actions and behaviors always match his character and nature. And his goal for us is nothing less. Christ’s objective for his disciples is to make us disciplined people. In the words of John Ortberg, “Disciplined people can do the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reason.” Just like God.

Integrity Study Day 2
Integrity Study Day 3
Integrity Study Day 4
Integrity Game


Tara - SanitySrchr said...


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that took more than 1/2 an hour!

Sharon said...

I. WANT. THIS. I am thinking I not only want this, I NEED this. For my family. You know what's going on over here across the way, and I'm thinking it'd be good for me to have a copy to work on so I can work on it with my kids... um ... "afterwards" ya know? So is this out of a book? Actually, I really like having all of your comments in there, too, since you and I think so much alike. Hmm, thinking if you'll keep putting all of the lessons in here, I'll just cut and paste them all with your comments added, into Word, then do a little editing to work your kiddos out and mine in, then presto-chango, and I'll have myself an Integrity Lesson Booklet!
Wow, that would be SO great.
But no pressure or anything.

Jersey Guy said...

Wait a minute, you're saying there was "some truth" to the belief that gypsies are lying thieves?
The Romany people have been discriminated against and oppressed for hundreds of years. We are an ethnic minority that has been feared and reviled out of ignorance. We value family and respect for our heritage like anyone else and no, we are no more apt to lie and steal than the average WASP.

marythemom said...

I knew that the minute I wrote this abbreviated version of what was said that some of it would come out wrong. Please understand that there was no racial slur intended or I think received by the kids.

With the kids I was much clearer about stereotyping and perceptions. We talked about how Native Americans (which is my children's heritage to varying degrees) were viewed by the king of England as savage heathens, but that this was a stereotype and perception based on his narrow viewpoint.

We talked about how "gypsies" were usually traveling nomads with different ways and customs and how other people might misunderstand and perceive them as "lying thieves." You can't say that none of the gypsies ever lied or stole (they were human after all and there are always some humans who make bad choices), just like you can't say there aren't some women who are bad drivers - this is where the "some truth" part came from.

Please believe me that I no more think (or represented) the Romany people are "lying thieves" than I think that Native Americans are heathen drunks, all Enlish kings are inbred loons, all women are nurturing weaklings, the French are snooty, or the Scotch are all skinflints.

Please forgive my poor recall and abbreviated version of the events of that morning - I meant no disrespect.


Jules said...

Actually, what’s interesting is that one of the most fundamental factors which helped Hitler’s popularity was the German ideal of a Führer, someone who could boldly and heroically lead them into a glorious future. The Führer-principle already existed in Germany well before Hitler came on the stage, and Germans actively desired someone who could rise above political parties, above ideology, and above historical constraints in order to unite them behind a single cause.