Let me give an example. Recently, we were having a fund raiser at school to raise money for a charity. Friendly competition was going on in all the classes and my class set a goal of what they wanted to raise. I told them if they met their goal, I'd bring doughnuts for the class. I allowed them to set the goal and while I reminded them each day, it was up to them. (I planned to give to make up any money they needed to make the goal if they didn't quite make it, but I didn't tell them this.)
The final day arrived and we were a little over $15 short. Then one student said something that definitely did not sit well with this teacher...."Can't you just lower the bar as to what we needed to raise?" A chorus of "yeah, we did pretty good - can't you just reward us anyway?" was heard. I stopped right there. No, I could not. I could not in good conscious reward for a goal not met. I loved them too much for that. Now, before you think I'm an awful teacher, I did bring doughnuts another day, making sure they understood it wasn't a reward for reaching their goal but simply because I wanted to bring them. It was grace, not something earned.
This story illustrated something I see in my own children, and in my own life. There is something that is often missing in my life - integrity. The dictionary defines integrity as "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty." In other words - do I live what I say I believe or do I want credit for just good enough?
My conversation with another teacher made me ask, What is going on with 'kids these days?' The next day, I stumbled upon a verse that answered my question and made it clear. Proverbs 20:7 - "The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them." If I want my children to be blessed, I have to walk in integrity. Psalm 119:1 says "Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord." Does my life demonstrate joy? If not, maybe the problem is that I am not walking in integrity. If I want my children joyful and blessed, it starts with me!
Have we, as a people, forgotten how important integrity is? Do I hold others to a standard I do not hold for myself? Do feel it is okay for me to yell at someone in traffic but not okay for my child to yell at their brother or sister? Do I feel it is okay for me to tell a little lie and yet expect my children to be honest with me? Do I cut down my boss or co-workers and yet expect my children to speak with respect toward their teachers and speak kindly toward others at school?
Do I make excuses for my children and yet expect them to try their best to succeed? Do I demonstrate a life of integrity?
I guess it all boils down to this; the question isn't really what is the problem with kids these days. The question is 'What is wrong with us?' because whether we realize it or not - our children are watching and following in the steps we leave.