A young job-seeker, anxious to be noticed amid a large group of applicants, considers his resume.
He knows the job requires a certain level of education and, although he meets all other qualifications, he might not get the attention of the manager if he tells the truth about his schooling. The thought enters his mind: Why not, he reasons, just bend the truth a little? Why not claim he obtained the degree he fell just short of obtaining?
Elsewhere, a young woman finds herself a little short of funds just when she needs to send a birthday present to a relative. Part of her duties at work involve sending parcels that are charged to the company's mailing account. She considers whether to send the birthday gift from work. Who would know?
These are typical of the everyday questions of honesty that end up defining a person's character. Most people wouldn't think of donning a ski mask and robbing the neighborhood bank. But many people figure a small lie won't hurt. Or perhaps they think even a large lie won't matter if no one finds out.
One recent survey of college students found that 13 percent of them admitted to lying on their resumes before they even started their careers. More disturbing, about 60 percent of human resource personnel surveyed recently said they had found inaccuracies on the resumes they had examined, according to a report by the Knight-Ridder-Tribune News Service.
The risks can be great, ranging from public embarrassment of the type seen recently among some high-profile officials, to feelings of guilt and a loss of self-worth.
A recent report in the Dallas Morning News made the point that lying on a resume is not a victimless crime. If someone is hired because of a lie, it means another, better qualified applicant didn't get the job.
In addition, managers were quoted as saying they would have difficulty ever again trusting an employee who had been found to have lied on a resume.
As for other indiscretions in the business world, surveys have found varying degrees of attitudes about cutting corners, copying software, fudging expense reports and selling things of inferior value, to name just a few. Many people are more than willing to rationalize dishonesty for personal gain.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, "Some may regard the quality of character known as honesty to be a most ordinary subject. But I believe it to be the very essence of the gospel. Without honesty, our lives and the fabric of our society will disintegrate into ugliness and chaos" (Ensign, October 1990).
The scriptures are filled with examples that prove this point. Few are as powerful as the 2,000 sons of the people of Ammon. Helaman described them as "exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted" (Alma 53:20).
To these young men, honesty and integrity were sources of confidence and strength.
For the rest of us, struggling with everyday challenges great and small, we would do well to ponder what it means to be true in all things with which we are entrusted.