A Question of Honesty


Countless stories will be told of the happenings on and off the diamond this baseball season. One of my favorites doesn’t involve big-name stars or major league baseball. It’s about kids just starting to play the game. It appeared a few years ago in Sports Illustrated.

The game was played in Wellington, Florida. In it, a seven-year-old first baseman, Tanner Munsey, fielded a ground ball and tried to tag a runner going from first to second base.

The umpire, Laura Benson, called the runner out, but young Tanner immediately ran to her side and said, “Ma’am, I didn’t tag the runner.” Umpire Benson reversed her call, sent the runner to second base, and Tanner’s coach gave him the game ball for his honesty.

Two weeks later, Laura Benson was again the umpire and Tanner was playing shortstop when a similar play occurred. This time Benson ruled that Tanner had missed the tag on a runner going to third base, and she called the runner safe. Tanner looked at Benson and, without saying a word, tossed the ball to the catcher and returned to his position. Benson sensed something was wrong. “Did you tag the runner?” she asked Tanner.

His reply: “Yes.”

Benson then called the runner out. The opposing coaches protested until she explained what had happened two weeks earlier. “If a kid is that honest,” she said, “I have to give it to him.  This game is supposed to be for kids.”

Where are the Tanner Munseys in our world? Does anyone tell the truth anymore? The philosopher Diogenes sought an honest person in Athens and Corinth: “With Candle and Lanthorn, when the Sun shin’d I sought Honest Men, but none could I find.”

Did you know that the average person tells about thirteen lies per week? Paul Ekman, professor of psychology at the University of California Medical School and author of Telling Lies, has been studying lies for twenty years. His research has revealed that we don’t even realize when we’re lying. The book, When America Told the Truth, claims that 30 percent of those consulted admitted that they would “cheat on their taxes—to a point,” the assumption is that a huge lie is more likely to be audited than a small one. A walloping 64 percent agreed with the statement, “I will lie when it suits me, so long as it doesn’t cause any real damage.” The moral damage that lying does to the liar was apparently not pondered, much less the strain and potential destruction of personal relationships. USA Today cited a report that indicated that 58.4 percent of Americans have called in sick to get a day off from work, and 76 percent of Americans consistently exceed the speed limit. Diogenes, apparently, wouldn’t be able to find many honest people in American either.

Honesty is always the best policy. Coming home from work, a woman stopped at the corner deli to buy a chicken for supper. The butcher reached into a barrel, grabbed the last chicken he had, flung it on the scales behind the counter, and told the woman its weight.

She thought for a moment. “I really need a bit more chicken than that,” she said. “Do you have any larger ones?”

Without a word, the butcher put the chicken back into the barrel, groped around as though finding another, pulled the same chicken out, and placed it on the scales. “This chicken weighs one pound more,” he announced.

The woman pondered her options and then said, “Okay. I’ll take them both.”

Uh, oh. He had been caught. Have you ever been found out in a lie? Rather embarrassing, not to mention, hurtful and damaging to those around you. The trust that is broken when a lie has been told often takes years to rebuild. Is it worth it?

Honesty makes you complete. An honest person is real, genuine, authentic, and bona fide. Honest people can live in the light; dishonest people run for cover. Choosing dishonesty is a hard road to walk, trying to remember what you said and what you didn’t say. Our words are like boomerangs, they always come back to us.

Honesty is best cultivated, like most virtues, when exercised. The more honesty is exercised, the more it becomes a settled disposition. Honesty is a fundamental ingredient for human exchange; it is a fundamental element for integrity. It is necessary for personal wholeness and reliability in communication, be that in personal relationships or in business.

What if you deliberately sought to live an honest life for the next twenty-four hours? That is, for the next twenty-four hours you refused to lie, deceive, or shade the truth. Say what you have to say, not what you ought to say. Make your word your bond. Match your walk with your talk. Keep your promises.

It will not be easy. It will require total effort and concentration. Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote, “Many of you have already found out, and others will find out in the course of their lives, that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate with total attention on its pursuit.”

The question of honesty? Following the example of Tanner Munsey, there should be no question.


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About Rick Ezell

I am a husband, father, pastor, and writer. This blog is about shaping character, transforming church, and impacting culture. I believe that if one defines their moments then their moments will determine their character and their character will influence their world. I write on personal development, church leadership, and our changing culture. I also write about the resources I am developing and the books I am writing. My goal is to create challenging, relevant, and inspiring content that will help you be a better person, the church be a better parish, and the world a better place. If you are interested in those things, this blog is for you. I have served the church my entire career as a student minister and senior pastor. I studied at Samford University, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (eventually I will get it). I have written eight books. My most recent ones are Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love and Soul Therapy: The Healing Words of Psalm 23. Both are available as eBooks. I have written over 1000 articles for various local, regional, and national publications. I have been married to Cindy for thirty-three years. We have one wonderful daughter. We live in Greenville, SC. In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading, running, tennis, and golf. You can contact me via email or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. This is my personal blog. The opinions I express here do not necessarily represent those of my employer. The information I provide is on an as-is basis. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.
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