TWO weeks ago, we started a mini-series on integrity.

The motivation behind pushing for education on integrity came after I was invited to facilitate an integrity workshop with youth in Botswana.

That went so well that I realised how huge a need it is for us to put our resources, time and energy into teaching principles of integrity in our workplaces and government programmes.

It sure would be cheaper investing into teaching why we should operate with integrity than to keep losing a hundred times that amount out the back door when people act without integrity, participating in corruption.

Today, I want to focus on something I have never heard taught. So, I am praying that God gives me the wisdom and insight to teach it.

I can’t speak for you, but when I hear of corruption, I always hear of the devastating effects it has on a country’s economy.

Integrity is a mental choice entailing doing the right thing when no one else is watching, even if no one will ever find out. Let’s look at three characteristics of a person with integrity.

•Empathy — the intentional decision to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. Let’s say you are the person working at Ministry of Health and are tempted to dip your hands into the funds meant to buy new equipment for the hospital.

Millions have been allocated. What does it matter if you give the tender to a friend and in the process make enough to go on that exotic vacation you have long yearned for?

Here is what empathy does: You begin to think of the mother who has three children and has been diagnosed with cancer and now won’t be able to be treated because the radiation therapy machine is not working.

You begin to think of the medical supply company which is run by a man who has taken a loan against his home to purchase the equipment needed to run his company who needs and deserves this tender, but will lose his home if he continues to be disadvantaged because he isn’t even given a chance.

You think of the father who is told the public hospital doesn’t have the chemotherapy drugs needed to save his life. Desperate to take care of his family, he turns to steal — something he would have never considered before.

But now, desperate times call for desperate measures! All of this has happened because you weren’t content with your secure monthly salary and decided to pad your pockets a little more. Empathy allows you to see past yourself and your pocket to the devastating affects your selfish corruption will have on others.

•Trustworthy — Do you have a helper in your home who you can trust? I mean, you could leave money beside the bed and know that she would not take it?

Or maybe you have a driver who you know won’t take advantage of the car and use it for personal business? Not many are blessed to have met people like that, but if you are one of these who has, you can testify what a peace of mind it gives you to know others could be that trustworthy.

Can you imagine how efficient our country would be if employees were trustworthy? If everyone entrusted to do a job and oversee a certain resource could be trusted to do it to the best of their ability… can you just imagine what it would have been like?

If each one of us would begin to choose to do the right thing even when no one is watching, what kind of world would ours be like! The big change starts with one person. That person can be you!

•Love — Has anyone ever told you to go the extra mile to help your child do well in school; to ensure that she is warm at night, or to cook a nice meal for your husband?

No! You did that because you love that person! When you love others, you are willing to put their needs above your own; you would also be willing to act selflessly because you care about the well-being of someone other than just yourself.

Imagine, if this was applied in every decision of our lives! Corruption would cease and integrity prevail if we chose to love one another and treat others the way we would want to be treated ourselves.

Above I have listed ideal qualities we could all have, but the truth of the matter is living day in, day out with such a resolve is hard, maybe even impossible! I can personally testify that for me, this is only possible when I “die” to myself and allow Jesus to take over.

Honestly, I am a selfish person! That is my nature. I am so thankful that God’s Spirit within me who gives me the power I would never have to deny my “fleshly” desires.

I am thankful that when I allow Him, He can love others through me. I am thankful that I fear God so that even on those days when I think no one will ever see what I steal, I am aware that He is watching.

I am not perfect, but I can tell you that God’s Spirit within me allows me to be a person that I believe can positively contribute to our society.

My prayer is that many more would deny themselves and choose to do things God’s way — not by their strength — but by His power working within them — guiding them to lead lives where they can be trusted with our country’s resources and can truly act in love towards others and love for future generations.