Lesson 49: Honesty and Integrity

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 192–94


Objective

Each young man will understand and seek the self-respect and strength that come from being honest.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      A pencil for each young man for marking scriptures.

  2. 2.

    Prepare five cards with one of the following examples on each card:

    1. a.

      The telephone rings. John says, “If that’s Bob, tell him I’m not home!”

    2. b.

      Dad overslept. He was fifteen minutes late for work. “My bus was late,” he explained to his boss.

    3. c.

      Todd is small for his age and gets into a movie theater for half price. “That’s all right,” he says, “because movie theaters make a lot of money.”

    4. d.

      Robert really needs to score well on the test, but he has not prepared. He can copy from Jack who sits by him. “It won’t hurt to cheat just this once,” says Robert.

    5. e.

      “I really don’t want anyone else to hear about his,” Preston confided to Steve. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone,” Preston said, already making plans to pass the word on to Phil.

  3. 3.

    Review the counsel about honesty on pages 9 and 10 of For the Strength of Youth.

Note

Most young men are well aware that they should be honest, but they need to be reminded of the varied situations where honesty is tested and of the great blessings that come from an honest life. Your attitude toward honesty will be evident in your lesson presentation as well as in your life. Let the young men sense your desire to be honest and the value the Lord places on this important attribute.

Suggested Lesson Development

We Should Be Honest at All Times

Activity and discussion

Distribute the cards, and have the examples read aloud.

  • How are all of these situations similar?

Discuss each situation and the consequences of each.

Emphasize that the acts of dishonesty in these examples will not put a person in jail, cause physical injury, or impose a fine. Each act, however, is wrong, and it may become a habit or lead to other acts of dishonesty. Such acts teach others to be dishonest.

Scriptures and discussion

Choose two young men to read and explain the following scriptures that tell what the Lord has said about honesty: Exodus 20:15–16; Doctrine and Covenants 136:25–26.

Quotation

President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of different ways that people justify dishonesty:

“Practically all dishonesty owes its existence and growth to this inward distortion we call self-justification. It is the first, the worst, and most insidious and damaging form of cheating—to cheat oneself.

“There is the man who would not drink a cup of coffee but every night would rob coal from the open railroad cars. There is the girl who, while attending to all her church duties, robs five hundred dollars from her employer. There was the young man who administered the sacrament on Sunday but on the Saturday night before was involved in sinful petting. There are many who borrow and fail to repay” (in Conference Report, Mexico and Central America Area Conference 1972, p. 27).

Discussion

Have the young men discuss other ways we are tempted to be dishonest and the reasons. You may want to discuss such things as breaking traffic laws, using others’ possessions without permission, not telling the truth, withholding information to protect ourselves or others, and cheating.

  • How do you overcome temptations to be dishonest?

Explain that we should pray to have the Holy Ghost guide us, be firm but not self-righteous in our explanations to others, and show respect for others.

Article of faith

  • Which article of faith states our belief about honesty?

Have the young men turn to and read the thirteenth article of faith. Have them underline the phrase We believe in being honest.

Have the young men respond silently to the following reasons for being honest:

Are you honest because—

  1. 1.

    You have been baptized?

  2. 2.

    Your mother and father expect you to be honest?

  3. 3.

    It is in the Articles of Faith?

  4. 4.

    Your friends and associates are honest?

  5. 5.

    There is a tradition of honesty and integrity in your family?

  6. 6.

    You are afraid of being caught?

  7. 7.

    You will be punished if you are not honest?

  8. 8.

    It is a commandment of God?

  9. 9.

    People around you think you are honest, and you would not want to disappoint them?

  10. 10.

    You hold the priesthood?

Now go over the list again, and discuss with the young men each reason for being honest.

  • Which are not good reasons for being honest?

  • Which are good reasons for being honest?

  • Which of the reasons are the most important?

Story

Relate the following story, and have the young men listen to how a classroom teacher tested the honesty of his class.

“I had stressed the need for honesty, explaining to my students that many times we don’t even know our integrity is being tested. …

“So my class should have been prepared for the snap quiz I gave them that Thursday afternoon. It was a twenty-question, true-or-false test covering material we had discussed during the week. They finished the test just as the bell rang for dismissal.

“‘Please pass your papers to the center of the aisle,’ I instructed.

“Later that evening I very carefully graded each paper, recording the score in my grade book but leaving no marks on the papers.

“When the class assembled the next morning, I passed the papers back and, as usual, asked that each student grade his own paper.

“I read each question aloud and with a word of explanation announced the correct answer. Every answer was accompanied by the usual student groan or sigh of relief at having given a wrong or right response.

“‘Please count five off for each one missed and subtract the total from one hundred,’ I instructed.

“‘Your scores please.

“‘John?’

“‘85.’

“‘Susan?’

“‘95.’

“‘Harold?’

“‘80.’

“‘Arnold?’

“‘90.’

“‘Mary?’

“The response could hardly be heard: ‘45.’

“I went on, putting the grades in my grade book, carefully recording each oral report next to the grade I had recorded the night before. The comparison was revealing.

“A stillness settled on the class when I explained what I had done. Many did not look up from their desks; others exchanged furtive glances or quick smiles.

“I spoke quietly to my students.

“‘Some of you may wish to talk to me privately about our experience here today. I would like that.’

“‘This was a different kind of test. This was a test for honesty. Were you true or false? I noticed that many of you looked at Mary when she announced her score of 45. Mary, if you don’t mind, would you please stand up? I want each of you to know that in my book Mary just achieved the highest score in the class. You make me feel very proud, Mary.’

“Mary looked up rather timidly at first, then her eyes glistened as she broke into a smile and rose to her feet. I had never seen Mary stand so tall” (Wayne B. Lynn, “True … or … False,” New Era, Sept. 1978, p. 11).

Thought question

  • Would you have passed the test?

Discussion

Explain that to many people, being dishonest does not seem to matter as long as no one learns the truth.

  • Who always knows the truth? (We and Heavenly Father.)

Scripture reading

  • Is it possible to be honest in all things?

To answer this question, have the young men read and mark Alma 27:27, which describes the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, and Alma 53:20, which talks about the two thousand stripling warriors.

The Blessings of Honesty

Discussion

  • What are some additional blessings of honesty?

Allow the young men to respond, and emphasize the following thoughts:

  1. 1.

    We have good feelings about ourselves and about others.

  2. 2.

    Other people will trust us, and we can trust others.

  3. 3.

    We are worthy to be guided by the Holy Ghost.

  4. 4.

    We can communicate more effectively with Heavenly Father.

  • How has being honest blessed you?

You may want to read and discuss the counsel about honesty on pages 9 and 10 of For the Strength of Youth.

Quotation

Read the following statement from David M. Kennedy, former ambassador for the Church and secretary of the treasury of the United States: “A person’s integrity ultimately becomes the measuring rod others use to judge his character and behavior.”

Story

Tell the following story to demonstrate the effects of honesty:

“When I was about twelve years old our family lived in Kanab, Utah. A band of Piute Indians were camped a few miles away, across the wash. My father, Jacob Hamblin, the Indian missionary, said to me, ‘Son, I want you to go to the Indian camp this afternoon and trade that little bay pony for some blankets, which we will need this winter. …’

“When the midday meal was over I climbed astride old ‘Billy,’ led the little bay pony, and rode bareback across the flat toward the Indian camp.

“When I rode in, the chief helped me off the horse and asked, ‘You Jacob’s boy. What you want?’

“When I told him my errand, he looked at the trade pony and grunted his assent. He led me to his wigwam where there was a pile of hand-woven Indian blankets. He piled out a number of them. Determined to show my father that I was a good trader, I asked for another blanket. The chief looked at me out of the corner of his eye and added another blanket to my pile. Then I asked for another and another and still another. By now the chief was grinning broadly but added as many blankets as I demanded.

“Satisfied that I had made a really good trade, I closed the deal. The chief piled the blankets on the back of old ‘Billy’ and lifted me up.

“Father met me in the yard and looked at the blankets. Then he made two piles of about equal size. One pile he placed on the horse and put me back on, saying, ‘Go back and give these to the chief. You got enough blankets for two horses.’

“As I approached the camp, I could see the old chief. When I rode up, he laughed out loud and said, ‘I know Jacob send you back. He honest man. He my father as well as your father.’

“Several years later when Jacob was alone with a band of angry hostile Indians, the fact that he had always been honest with them saved his life” (Jacob Hamblin, Jr., as told by Louise Lee Udall, “A Horse Trade Story,” in A Story to Tell [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1946], pp. 359–60).

Discussion

Have the young men refer to the five examples given at the beginning of the lesson. Have someone read each example, and then ask the young men to change each situation to an example of honesty.

Testimony and challenge

Testify that being honest in all things will bring the young men great blessings and allow them to progress in all aspects of their lives. Challenge them to improve in being totally honest each day during the coming week and to set a pattern of honesty for their lives. Encourage them to read the counsel about honesty in For the Strength of Youth.