A plant growing in the middle of a dirt field.

Integrity Matters

Integrity is becoming harder and harder to find and discern. Places we thought would surely exhibit honesty and strong moral principles have become questionable. We hear of corruption in governmental politics at least weekly; fake news has infiltrated what once was objective, and charitable organizations have been known to become self-serving rather than giving. Knowing the difference between right and wrong has become blurred as viewed by society. Some of the things we were taught as children have been complicated or made to be controversial (e.g., punishment practices by parents, food choices, gender roles, and social taboos).

I came across this story from an unknown author that illustrates how integrity is still worthwhile. It serves as a nice follow-up to my last blog about gardens. The story has been modified from its entirety.

The Seed

A successful business owner was about to retire and wanted to choose a successor to take over his business. But, instead of choosing one of his directors or one of his children, he decided to do something different. He called his young executives together and announced that one of them would be chosen as the next CEO.

He gave each of them a seed to take home and plant. “I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here in one year with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants and choose who will become the next CEO.â€

Jim went home and told his wife what had happened at work that day. She helped him get a pot, soil, and compost to plant his seed. Jim diligently watered the seed. After three weeks, he did not see any signs of growth.  

Some of the other executives had begun talking about how their seeds were beginning to sprout.

Week after week, Jim’s seed had not grown. Others talked about how their plants were growing, but Jim didn’t even have a plant. He felt like a failure.

Six months went by. Nothing. Jim resigned himself to thinking he had killed his seed somehow. Everyone else had tall plants, trees, and flowers by now.

Jim said nothing to his colleagues but kept watering and fertilizing his dead plant. He hoped the seed would eventually show some sign of growth.

A year went by. All the young executives brought their plants to work to be inspected by the CEO. Jim’s wife insisted that he take his empty pot, although he was hesitant. He felt sick and embarrassed, but he knew his wife was right. He needed to be honest about what had happened.

A variety of plants graced the boardroom. Beautiful and full plants in all shapes and sizes. Jim placed his empty pot on the floor in the corner. Some of his colleagues laughed; others felt sorry for him.

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young executives.

“My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,†he said. “Today, one of you will be appointed the next CEO.â€

He saw Jim standing in the back beside his empty pot. He asked the Financial Director to bring Jim to the front. Jim was terrified. He wondered if he was about to be fired in front of everybody.

The CEO asked Jim what had happened to his seed, so Jim told the sad story. Everyone was asked to take a seat except for Jim.

“Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim,†exclaimed the business owner.

Jim couldn’t believe it. The others questioned how Jim could be the next CEO when his plant didn’t even grow.

“One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead. It was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought plants, trees, and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it.â€

“Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer of this business!† 

Integrity matters.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).

Karen Allen


  1. Sharon Atwood on April 28, 2023 at 10:17 am

    A happy reminder to be honest and it will pay off in the end!

    • Karen Allen on May 5, 2023 at 1:46 pm

      If for nobody else, then for yourself, anyway. 🙂

  2. Chaplain Eddie Burchfield on April 28, 2023 at 10:26 am

    I love this sis. Being honest is always the best way to live. You lit, you fry, but you won’t quit cooking. This is an awesome message. Love you my good sister.

    • Karen Allen on May 5, 2023 at 1:45 pm

      Your comparisons always make me smile, Chaplain. Thanks for your response. Much appreciated.

  3. J.D. Wininger on April 29, 2023 at 7:36 am

    Amen Ms. Karen. Many parents have tried to teach integrity to their children, but we never know how those seeds take until the harvest is ready. I thought about how my adopted dad not only spoke about the importance of integrity, he demonstrated it every day as a small business owner. I witnessed his many examples and I guess he wondered if they ever took root in my life. Then, I became a soldier, a husband, a college student, and a business owner. While I suppose each demonstrated my integrity, the example I thought of while reading your post was when I was blessed to serve as a youth football coach. It was there that I learned how important it was to demonstrate personal integrity for others. In youth football, there are weight limits, and if a youngster is too heavy, he is often moved up to play alongside older boys who were around his same weight. The problem with this is that an 11- or 12-year-old boy is very different physically from a 13- or 14-year-old boy. Yet, rules were rules and it was important that we abided by them. In my case, I had several younger boys on the team who despite their physical limitation always gave me their best. I made it a point to play them in every game. In close games, that sometimes meant losing the lead late in the game. So be it. I had other parents get furious with me on the sidelines because I took out their 13-year-old star player (in their mind) and replaced him with a 10-year-old who could not provide the same level of physical performance. I’d stand there getting yelled at, but would not back down and put their child back in the game unless one of my “little guys” got hurt. The seeds of integrity I planted bloomed wonderfully one Saturday afternoon during a playoff game. After substituting in the third quarter to ensure all my younger players got to participate (if they practiced during the week, I ensured they played in the game), we lost the lead. As two of the parent began berating me, one of my best players (a defensive player) came up to his dad, tugged at him for his attention and then proceeded to tell him, “I wanted Coach to take me out of the game so that David could play some. I was tired and needed a break and David plays as hard as I do.” His dad didn’t want to hear from his son, but that’s when I stopped his dad in his tracks. I said, “Congratulations Dad. I see your son has learned what it means to be a team member and to live his life with integrity. I’m sure that came from your example of living a selfless, God-honoring life of sacrifice for your family.” His dad looked at me and tears began to well in his eyes. Had I struck a nerve? Did he recognize that he wasn’t (in the moment) exhibiting the traits he wanted his son to follow? I’ll never know for sure. What I know is that I hugged that little man tighter than ever before that day. Told him how proud I was of him for sticking up for his teammate, and I made sure he got the biggest piece of pizza after the game. We lost that game, but I felt like I had just won the championship of the world that day. Thank you for sharing this most important lesson today my friend. God’s blessings.

    • Karen Allen on May 5, 2023 at 1:56 pm

      What a great story of personal experience. You definitely made an impact on those kids. Sounds like the parents, too! Being honest is hard and makes us squirm sometimes, but being honest bring so much more self-satisfaction. You made a different, J.D. You continue to make a difference.
      I gotta tell you that you came to mind a few days ago when we visited a cheese farm in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The cows were all in the barn and had been for the winter months. They have to be boarded to salvage the grass for hay with all of the wetlands that could ruin the grass. So the cows are not released until late April/early May. The locals call it “the Dance of the Cows” as they run and play and enjoy their freedom. Anyway, one caw had given birth just two hours earlier and had been separated from its mom. Me and another woman felt so sorry for it so we asked the farmer why. He said it was to help him survive better and that he would be rejoined with the mom two years later, but they wouldn’t remember each other. I thought to myself how J.D. would never, ever do that! The farmer seemed very knowledgeable, but still, I don’t see how that could be could good
      for mother or calf. Made me sad.
      Thanks for sharing your great story. I hope some other coaches read it.

  4. David E Luellen, PhD on April 29, 2023 at 8:28 am

    Great story! Great message!

    • Karen Allen on May 5, 2023 at 1:44 pm

      Thanks for reading it and commenting.

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Ewe R Blessed Ministries / Karen O. Allen

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