When your boss asks you to cheat

  • by Terry Tyrrell
Photo courtesy Sebastien Wiertz/Flickr

As I sat at the far end of the conference table, my commander instructed me to pay for a change-of-command event using money designated in the budget for a totally different purpose. It sounded a lot like he wanted me to “hide” the transaction so the auditors wouldn’t detect the impropriety.

One of the greatest temptations we face as we seek to identify with Christ is the urge to get ahead at all costs. We want our bosses to view us as superior to our co-workers, and one way to do this is to lower our standards when we’re under pressure from those who can help us gain recognition and promotion.

Courage

Courage is a crucial attribute for those who put their lives on the line – for example, Joshua leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. It’s also a trait required of all men and women seeking to live godly lives. In non-combat scenarios, we call it integrity.

We define courage as dealing with something that’s dangerous, difficult, or painful rather than withdrawing from it. Red McDaniel, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict, explained courage isn’t the absence of fear but the presence of faith. Staff Sergeant Jeff Struecker, a Christian who led a convoy through the streets of Mogadishu under intense fire during the U.S raid in Somalia in 1993, certainly demonstrated this faith-based courage.

So did Queen Esther when she saved her fellow Jews from impending annihilation. When she discovered Haman’s plot to destroy her people, she went to the king to plead for mercy. This was a dangerous strategy; the penalty for approaching Ahasuerus without being summoned was death. Esther’s courageous intervention saved the lives of her countrymen.

Integrity is having the courage to act with sound moral principle. A man or woman of integrity is honest, virtuous, upright, just and trustworthy.

“Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together.  We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”

– Billy Graham

Daniel demonstrated great integrity as he served in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. He wouldn’t defile himself by eating the Babylonian king’s choice food because it violated Jewish dietary laws. Later, he also refused to compromise when commanded to worship King Darius rather than God. Not only was Daniel honored for his faithfulness, but a couple of the kings he served in Babylon praised the God of Israel. 

We see courage and integrity in Jesus when Satan tempted Him after His 40 days fasting and praying in the wilderness. Despite Satan’s hollow promises to reward Christ if He’d compromise His Father’s standards, Jesus remained firm to what He knew to be right. He was unwilling to give into the temptation to obey the devil rather than God.

I’m sure you’re wondering what happened when my commander directed me to break the rules. Fortunately, I managed to convince him that we could use funds from another budget line to pay for his special event. Having gone through this experience, my advice for you is to decide how you’d handle a similar challenge well before you’re confronted with instruction to do something you know is unethical.

Reflection: Is integrity valued in the workplace, or do superiors place a higher priority on blind obedience to their direction – regardless of ethical considerations? What pressures to compromise have you experienced at work? How have you been able to deal with these situations? How can God help you to maintain the highest standards?

Comment below: What is the value of integrity in the workplace?

Read more about the Christian and work.