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January 11, 2017

          Aaron Beam is a former Chief Financial Officer for a large Fortune 500 company that he co–founded. At one point his boss told him that they needed to work the numbers to get them “where they needed to be.”

          Beam and his chief accountant did as asked.

          “As soon as I walked out of the room I felt awful,” he told in an article in the January 2017 Rotarian magazine. “I knew I had screwed up. And from that day forward, my life totally changed. … I started to drink heavily. I hated going to work. The following June, I left the company – with a good bit of money.”

          Five years later it hit the news that massive accounting fraud was uncovered in the company, with almost $3 billion in phony number on the books.

          Beam ended up in jail. After he was released, nobody would hire this man who had been making $500 an hour. So, he started mowing lawns to earn money.

          “When I was riding those lawn mowers, I was sort of writing books in my head. When you go to prison and lose all your material wealth, you ask yourself: How could I have made such bad decisions? I participated in one of the largest corporate frauds in the history of the United States. Why did I do it?

          “When I look back, I was weak. I did not stand up to my boss. I let him convince me that cooking the books was OK. It was really just not having courage. To be ethical, to do the right thing every day, takes a lot of courage. You have to practice being ethical. If you do it every day, you’ll be ready when the going gets rough.”

          Those words about being ethical are what my father has lived his entire life. It is so important that we have integrity. That we believe in ourselves. It is important that our children and friends see us living with integrity.

          Be courageous. Do what is right. That’s a goal for us all to live by.

          And be kind to others. In fact, it’s the beginning of a New Year. Consider giving a bonus to your mailman, the sanitation workers, your newspaper carrier, your hairdresser … someone who works hard and serves you well.

          And do something different from your normal routine. Maybe you should throw orange peels into your fire to make the house smell good. That sounds like fun. Or boil them on the stove if you don’t have a fireplace.

          Then say a prayer before you sleep that God will help you see opportunities to be a blessing for others this year. And to help you live a life of integrity.

          Big thoughts!