I’ve learned that most people have good intentions. However, making a commitment and following through are two different things. It is the follow through that gives you integrity and allows others to trust you. Obedience by a child is a perfect example of follow through. Parents instruct; children obey.

A child may have good intentions to pick up the toys and clean the bedroom, but until the toys are picked up and the room clean, no amount of good intentions will make parents happy.

If you’re told to do a thing,

And mean to do it really,

Never let it be by halves;

But do it fully, freely.

Do not make a poor excuse,

Waiting, weak, unsteady;

All obedience worth the name

Must be prompt and ready.

—Anonymous

Obedience is an integral part of integrity. Those who obey the law are valued and earn our trust. Employers and supervisors value employees who obey the rules and follow instructions. We are taught that our Heavenly Father values integrity and rewards those who are obedient to His commandments.

Boss and employee agreeing

Many years ago, I worked with a young attorney who had very good intentions. He was a brilliant young man who knew the law backwards and forwards. He was also a very kind person with many wonderful qualities. Unfortunately, the follow through wasn’t there. The senior attorneys gave him an assignment, he researched until he knew every aspect of the law surrounding the issue, then he moved on to research some other topic of interest. The actual nuts and bolts of handling the assignment never seemed to happen. This young man was so intelligent and knowledgeable, that the senior attorneys trusted him that the work would get done.

When I went to one of the senior partners with this information, he was kind, but l could tell he didn’t take me seriously—after all, I was a 21-year-old legal secretary with no prior experience in a law office. Almost two years later, the senior partner took me to lunch and apologized to me. By that time, the firm had discovered huge problems with some of their cases—the ones that had been handled by our brilliant young attorney. It was at that luncheon that I was told the young man was no longer working for the firm.

It doesn’t matter how intelligent or knowledgeable you are, if you are not obedient, you will not be found to have integrity. Our young attorney really did have good intentions to do the work; he just got caught up in what he considered to be the fun part of his job—research—while neglecting what he considered the mundane—legal forms and documents. He was doing it “by halves”; not “fully, freely”.

Lawyers conversing

One of the most frustrating things in the business world is employees with good intentions who don’t follow through. It’s not only frustrating for the employer, but for coworkers, as well. You see all this wonderful potential going down the drain. I’m not sure the lack of follow through is the same for everyone. Sometimes it is pure laziness; other times (as in the case of the young attorney) active, intelligent minds haven’t learned to focus on the mundane and bridle the passion for learning long enough to make that learning count in the real world.

Aside from employment, developing personal integrity is important in relationships. Husbands and wives need to know that their partner is going to do what she/he has committed to do. Children need to know that Mom and Dad really mean what they say they mean, and that they are dependable. Neighbors want to be able to depend on each other.

Let’s take this one step further. We are here on this earth to be tested, learn, and grow. Our Heavenly Father has given us instructions, assignments, or commandments to follow in our journey in this life. Can He depend on us for the follow through? How frustrated He must get when we fritter away our time on silly, meaningless things instead of developing our talents, serving others, and carrying out our responsibilities.

Mormon visiting teaching

Each of us has been given special gifts which He expects us to develop and use for the betterment of mankind. Can you picture Him as a father watching us waste our time on things that don’t really matter? Anyone who has been a parent knows the frustration when children are disobedient. Parents want to protect their children from harm, and to help them grow and learn. That only happens through obedience to rules and guidelines.

Strong, proactive obedience is anything but weak or passive. It is the means by which we declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the powers of heaven. Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence (Elder L. Tom Perry, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Obedience through Our Faithfulness, Apr. 2014 General Conference).

My brothers and sisters, let us live true to the trust the Lord has placed in us. Let us strive for personal, practical integrity in every endeavor, regardless of how mundane or inconsequential it may seem. The small matters accumulate to shape the direction of our lives (Joseph B. Wirthlin, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Personal Integrity, Apr. 1990 General Conference).

Obedience is the way to attain personal integrity. We must be “prompt and ready” and do things “fully, freely”. We must never let our attempts at obedience and integrity “be by halves.”

About Tudie Rose
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.

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