Lessons From Ben Roethlisberger: Character Counts, Part 2 of 2

Lessons From Ben Roethlisberger: Character Counts, Part 2 of 2

LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?

who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

He who does these things
will never be shaken.

Psalm 15: 1, 4, 5

After reading my last blog, I imagine a skeptical reader thinking that my examples of Ben Roethlisberger and Tiger Woods are so over the top as to be completely irrelevant to a typical family situation. Roethlisberger makes over $12 million a year and his little 6 game ban will cost him personally nearly $2 million. He had two sexual assault charges and got out by a hair when the charges are dropped. He goes to bars with a posse of his own paid bodyguards for heaven sakes. Tiger Woods has a estimated net worth of $600 million, was making $85 million a year at one time, and was headed for the Billionaire club and out of the millions of golfers in the world, he’s the best. He married a Swedish model and ends up having affairs over and over again. What does the lack of integrity of these celebrities have to do with me?

Integrity is no respecter of persons. It know no extremes. The word “integer” comes from the late Middle Ages (14th-15th Century) Latin word integrite, which is where we get the word, integer, or whole number, such as 1, 2, 3.  A whole number is UNDIVIDED.  Dictionary.com says “integrity” has 3 meanings:

  1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

2.the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

3.a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.

Using the latter example, if the integrity of a ship’s hull is compromised, the whole ship sinks.  The ship may be 99% perfect, but the 1% hole causes the whole ship to fail.  It does no one any good on the bottom of the ocean.  No one is going to care if the ship was 99% fine.

Let’s bring this down to a simple marital relationship, and no one makes $12 million or $85 million a year.  Let’s say a husband and a wife are discussing their upcoming plans.  His mom wants them to come for the weekend, but they have made other arrangements.  The couple is sitting in the kitchen discussing this when his mother calls.  She asks them when they are coming this weekend and he says to his mother, while he winks to his wife, that he’s not feeling well and they won’t be able to come. Instead of truthfully saying that he and his wife had already had other things going on, he point blank lies to his mother.  In front of his wife.  What has he just done?

He’s just planted a seed of doubt in his wife’s mind.  She will think: My husband lies to his mother.  Who does that?  If he’s capable of that, what else is he lying about? When he tells me he’s late at the office, is her really late?  Is he lying to me, too?  Does he have a lover he winks to when he talks to me on the phone?

The same doubts would go through the husband’s mind if she calls in sick for work when she is NOT sick.  When you are NOT WHOLE your spouse will doubt your integrity.

Lack of integrity doesn’t only introduce doubt.  It introduces a loss of trust, fear, worry and insecurity…to everyone in the family.  And when people feel this way, all bets are off on normal behavior.  Pretty soon the couple and the family starts to have trouble.  When integrity is broken, chaos isn’t far behind.

This same doubt will infiltrate your children, if you are not a man of your word.  If your kids doubt your integrity, they will quit talking to you.  Or be surly when they do.  Why talk to dad?  I never know when he’s telling me the truth.  One of the main needs of children is to talk with their dad as they sort out their teenage years: Why am I here?  What am I good at?  Where do I fit in?  How do I fit in?  What is important in life?  Who should I marry?  What will I do for a living?  How do I handle that crazy teacher?  How do I handle failure and success?  How do I not give up?  What is the meaning of life?  These are the questions of adolescence.  They are the questions every teenager longs to ask his father.  But if his dad isn’t a man of his word, his child will not ask.

You think you can divorce and this will be fine and your kids will recover, kids are resilient?  When you divorce, you have broken your promise to your wife or husband.  Your kids know this.  They know that mom and dad are supposed to love each other.  They know what a marriage vow is.  They’ve heard mom or dad say that they would be there for them.  Oh, yeah?  I need dad today and I won’ see him until Saturday and it’ll take a day or two just to feel comfortable with him because he’s never around and then I have to go home to mom and…and why would I ask advice from someone who has made a promise to me and mom and then broke that promise?  So teenage boys and girls from divorced homes grow up without one of the most important developmental needs: Chats with dad.  Is it any wonder many of them flounder?

Sometimes I think if people had integrity, I’d be out of work.  Surely people need therapy after traumatic events, like an accident that is nobody’s fault, but most of the issues that people bring to my office have to do with a lack of integrity: Lying about schedules, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, porn, gambling, affairs, falling out of love.

Falling out of love?  This is an integrity issue?  Yes.  You made a promise.  You said, til death us do part.  Now you say you just don’t have those feelings any more.  You can’t change your feelings.  Your feelings tell you that I love you but I’m NOT IN love with you.  I don’t love you THAT way.  There’s no passion.  It’s just not there.

So?  You made a promise.  Your promise is only as strong as your feelings?   Really?  That’s it?  All I mean to you is the buzz I give you and if I don’t give you a buzz then you are out the door?  You are this fickle?  Blown too and fro by the wind?  We have no foundation?  Commitment means nothing?  Your word means nothing?  Patience, perseverance, sticktuitiveness, fortitude, none of these are in your character?

Let me get this straight.  You don’t operate any other aspect of your life this way.  You don’t feel like going to work in the morning and you still go.  You don’t feel like paying your bills and you pay them anyway.  You don’t feel like exercising and you exercise anyway.  You don’t feel like flossing your teeth and you floss your teeth anyway.  I’m below work and paying bills and exercise and flossing?

And now you are not only going to divorce me, you are going to take the kids away from me for half of the time (or more) and you are going to put me at or near the poverty level and you are going to rip my heart out and trample all over it in the street and then you want to be friends?  AHHHHHH!

Whole.  Undivided.  We could use a few more good men and women of their word.  Men and women who do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it.  Women and men who CHOOSE to love, CHOOSE to give,  CHOOSE to keep their word.  CHOOSE to do the right thing, even when it hurts sometimes.

If you follow your feelings instead of your principles, I feel sorry for you.  I feel more sorry for your loved ones.

Lessons From Ben Roethlisberger: Character Counts, Part 2 of 2

Lessons From Ben Roethlisberger: Character Counts, Part 1 of 2

Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.

Psalm 25:20-21 (NASB)

My son, Marty, hooked me up with an article on Yahoo Sports about the recent emphasis in the NFL Draft on picking players with character over players only with only talent.  The fall from grace of Ben Roethlisberger and Tiger Woods in recent months has led NFL recruiters to put a premium on character.  As Marty put it: talent can be developed, character is who you are.

NFL teams seemed to take a strong hint just a day after Ben Roethlisberger was suspended without committing a crime. If there was a theme to the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, it was that character was put on equal if not higher footing than talent. Nothing said that more than the Denver Broncos’ selection of Tim Tebow with the 25th overall pick, but the message was evident throughout the first day.

The article goes on to articulate that character was major factor throughout the draft.  Talent, without the character to back it up, can hurt a team.

Roethlisberger, who has led the Pittsburgh Steelers to two Super Bowls,  is a case in point.   Roethlisberger has had two sexual assault allegations, one in Lake Tahoe in 2008 and one in Millegdeville, Georgia last month.   In Milledgeville , a 20-year old college coed accused Roethlisberger of sexual assault in a bar bathroom, charges that were later dropped.  The NFL was not amused and last week suspended him for six games.

Ben Roethlisberger showed a pattern of behavior that damaged the integrity of the game, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday.

Goodell suspended Roethlisberger this week following at least two incidents in which the Steelers’ quarterback was accused of sexual assault.

“We’ve established there’s a pattern,” Goodell told the Associated Press Sports Editors in a meeting at his Park Ave. offices. “We go back through all the incidents and try to understand is there any kind of pattern, and we have enough information to believe he’s not making sound judgments at critical points.”

Goodell also said he has the flexibility to change the six-game suspension if new evidence of misbehavior emerges.

Roethlisberger’s behavior has led his fellow players to doubt his leadership ability.  In this video from ESPN over the last weekend players and former teammates of Roethlisberger comment on his ability to lead the team, with one colleague saying that he believed fully 60% of the players were disgruntled with Roethlisberger’s leadership.  Another said that yes, Roethlisberger had two Super Bowl rings, but he also had two legal accusations and the latter two were carrying more weight than the former.  There was even some rumors floating that the Steelers would seek to trade Roethlisberger altogether.

You can only reach as high as your integrity.  Life is tough enough without adding to your troubles that you can’t be trusted or that your word is no good or the promises you made to your spouse or kids are expendable.

Here’s another way to look at the talent/character debate.  In Dr. Henry Cloud’s recent book, Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, he likens integrity to the wake behind a boat.  The wake is the result of the boat’s path and this wake has two sides.  He writes there are two sides to the wake we leave behind us as well: The task side and the relationship side.  The task side asks, are you getting the job done?  Are there good results?  On the relationship side is how you are effecting others.  Are they blessed for being with you?  Do you leave others thriving or are they drowning?

It’s one thing to get a job done, to get results.  It’s another altogether to leave a trail of tears.

It’s not a question of which is more important, talent or character, task or relationship?  It is a both/and.  You need the skill to accomplish your goals.  You need the character to make sure your accomplishments last and the dignity to make sure you don’t use those around you for your own ends.

For example:

-you may be a great housekeeper and your home may be spotless and everything in it’s place, but if your kids and spouse are terrorized by your demands, your clean house means nothing.   Better a morsel in the attic than living in a spotless house of strife.

-your marriage looks awesome and then your spouse finds out you were having an affair.  All of a sudden, that “awesome” marriage doesn’t look so good.  It’ll take a lot of work to repair the damage you’ve done.  If you are living a double life you can expect a multiple of problems.

-your spouse asks you where you were and you tell her it’s none of her business and that you are a big boy and you can do what you want and quit being a control freak.  You’ve just told her more than you realized:  You’ve told her she doesn’t matter, that you don’t need her or her opinion, you don’t want her in your life, you don’t want her input or influence in your life, you don’t want to protect her and you don’t want her to protect you (she needs to know where you are so she can contact you in an emergency and vice versa), and that you have things to hide because if you were a person of integrity you would be proud and happy to let her know what’s going on in your life.

Hey, look.  Life is tough enough.  Why multiply problems for yourself?  Let your integrity protect you.  Or to say it another way:

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Proverbs 11: 3

If you want the fast track to ruining your life, throw your integrity out the window.  Live your life however you want.  Don’t have any principles.  Don’t be responsible.  Make promises you have no intention of keeping.  Be totally offended if anyone points any of these things out.  Say that’s just not you.  Be stubborn and refuse to change or improve or grow or try to improve anything.  Be consistent in being inconsistent.  Let your loved ones know that you can be dependably NOT relied upon.

This way you can blame everyone else when no one wants to have anything to do with you.