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The Price of Lying
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Things were going badly where I work. Management implemented a new system that blocked progress. The project I was on soon fell behind schedule.  

Only those that ignored the new system and continued using the old methods made progress. Management diagnosed the lack of progress as due to a lack of employee enthusiasm about their new and wonderful system, not the new system. The only way around the system was to conceal what you were doing. To lie to the bosses.

“What is the big deal?” my son asked. “It is not as if your bosses encourage the truth. If lying is the only way to get the right thing done, why is that wrong? People tell white lies all the time.”

His questions were an opportunity to teach something about honesty, and explain why the work environment so disturbed me. This is what I told him:

I am not above shading the truth in a social situation. If a friend wearing an outfit that I think is absolutely awful,  asks me what I think, I will likely not say, “That looks terrible on you.” More likely I will say, “Well, it certainly is original.” That is not quite a lie, if not the absolute truth.

Tell the Truth?

Yet telling absolute falsehoods, even – perhaps especially– for the best of reasons, makes me uneasy. Christ states “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Turn that around to see the price of lies. If the truth sets you free, lies enslave you.  

Once you start lying, it becomes easier to continue lying, lowering your threshold about what constitutes an adequate reason to lie. Lying to the bosses to protect bosses from their folly easily becomes lying to bosses to protect yourself from inconvenience. Then it becomes lying to give yourself an advantage over your boss and coworkers

Moreover, when you are lie – even in an environment where lying is an accepted norm – soon no one knows whether they can rely on you. Certainly you will be unable to rely upon your coworkers. The environment becomes toxic.

Fortunately, soon after that conversation with my son, things changed. Some employees started leaving – including one of the best, who stated in an exit interview that he was leaving because lying was not part of his job description. Policy changed. Honest communications returned.

I was glad at the change, because I could not have stayed otherwise. My co-worker was right. Lying was not part of the job.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from

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