I recently read a story about long-distance runners Abel Mutai and Ivan Fernandez. It is heart-warming and a great reminder that integrity still matters. Here’s what the Facebook story shared:
In a race, athlete Abel Mutai representing Kenya was just a few feet from the finish line, but he was confused with the signage & stopped thinking he had completed the race. The Spanish athlete, Ivan Fernandez was right behind him & realizing what was happening, he started shouting at the Kenyan for him to continue running, but Mutai didn’t know Spanish didn’t understand. Then the Spanish pushed him to victory. A journalist asked Ivan, “Why did you do that?”
Ivan replied, “My dream is that someday we can have a kind of community life”. The journalist insisted “But why did you let the Kenyan win?” Ivan replied, “I didn’t let him win, he was going to win”. The journalist insisted again, “But you could have won!” Ivan looked at him & replied, “But what would be the merit of my victory? What would be the honor of that medal?
What would my Mom think of that?”
Values are transmitted from generation to generation.
What values are we teaching our children?
Integrity Still Matters
The reporter couldn’t understand why Fernandez let Mutai when the race. Fernandez didn’t see his actions as letting Mutai win. Rather, he knew Mutai had run the better race. Mutai had gotten to the finish line before he did. Mutai had only made a mistake in stopping early.
Knowing this, Fernandez put aside a cheap victory. He, instead, chose to help Mutai win the race.
This is a great example of integrity.
Sure, Fernandez could have passed Mutai but he felt like this would have been a cheap victory. He hadn’t run the better run. Mutai did. Mutai deserved to cross the finish line first.
Dictionary.com defines integrity as:
the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
This is what Fernandez exemplified during the end of this run. He let his strong moral principles and uprightness guide his actions. He chose to help someone else finish their race first before he finished his.
Do you have the integrity to lead well even when it will cost you your success? Are you willing to stop what you’re doing to help another leader succeed?
These are things we have to think about as we lead. We cannot be for ourselves. We have to be for others.
As we lead, we have to remember who we are. We also have to remember WHOSE we are. As Christian leaders, our integrity and faith need to come before any victory or success we’re chasing after.
Live a life of integrity and you will never have to worry about doing the right thing. You will choose it because it is the right thing to do.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.