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.
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. â€œI 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, Jimâ€™s seed had not grown. Others talked about how their plants were growing, but Jim didnâ€™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. Jimâ€™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.
â€œMy, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,â€ he said. â€œToday, 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.
â€œBehold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim,â€ exclaimed the business owner.
Jim couldnâ€™t believe it. The others questioned how Jim could be the next CEO when his plant didnâ€™t even grow.
â€œOne 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€
â€œTherefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer of this business!â€ Â
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 â€“ everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).