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Your Personal Integrity

Aloha brothers and sisters. It’s great to be with you. Thank you for being here with us.

Today I’ve chosen “integrity” as my topic for this devotional. Specifically, I want to share some thoughts I’ve had recently about integrity—what it means, and how we can develop this all-important trait. 

First, let me begin by sharing a short definition of integrity. C.S. Lewis, the great British writer, is quoted as having said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” To expand on that a little, when you have integrity, your actions match your words and you do what you say you will do. You are honest with yourself and others. 

Some of you may be familiar with the traditional Chinese tale called The Empty Pot by Demi. It’s the story of a young boy Ping and how he becomes emperor. When the aging emperor of the land needs to find a successor to his throne, he decides to let the flowers make the decision. He gathers the children of the land and gives each of them a flower seed. He tells them, “Whoever can show me their best in a year’s time will succeed me to the throne.” 

Ping excitedly plants his seed in the richest soil he can find. He takes care of it daily, doing the best he can, but no flower grows. A year passes, and it comes time to bring flowers to the emperor. Poor Ping only has an empty pot. As he makes his way to the palace, he sees all the other children in the land bringing beautiful flowers. He feels ashamed and sad.

At the palace, the emperor carefully inspects each child’s beautiful flower offering. He doesn’t say anything until he gets to Ping’s empty pot. “Why have you brought an empty pot?” the emperor asks Ping.

“I planted the seed, but it didn’t sprout. It was the best I could do,” responds Ping. The emperor smiles at Ping and then tells the children that all of the seeds he had given them had been cooked and therefore were unable to grow. Ping is the only child who was telling the truth. Ping becomes the new emperor. 1

This little tale contains an important lesson about integrity and finding personal strength from within. We might begin to ask ourselves some questions: Am I living with integrity? Am I doing things in my life that I am proud of and am willing to stand by? Are there areas in my life where I could be showing more integrity?

In April 2014 General Conference President (then Elder) Russell M. Nelson gave a talk entitled “Let Your Faith Show” where he said: 

“Danger lurks when we try to divide ourselves with expressions such as “my private life” or even “my best behavior.” If one tries to segment his or her life into such separate compartments, one will never rise to the full stature of one’s personal integrity—never to become all that his or her true self could be.”

“Day after day, on your path toward your eternal destiny, increase your faith. Proclaim your faith! Let your faith show!” 2

One of the many wonderful opportunities you have here at BYU–Hawaii is to not only grow intellectually and personally but also spiritually. This is a safe place for you to learn to feel good about your choices, not guilty or embarrassed. A favorite hymn that we often sing tells us to “do what is right, let the consequence follow,” 3 which for me has always been a reminder that success comes and goes, but integrity is forever. Your integrity will be important in relationships because it builds trust and creates closeness. Now is when and where you can continue developing your reputation and commitment to being a person of integrity. If you will use your time here to nurture and grow your integrity, it will help you throughout the rest of your life.

An area at BYU–Hawaii where you can prove and strengthen your personal integrity is with the Honor Code and Dress and Grooming Standards, which applies to all of us and which we all made a voluntary commitment to follow when we became part of this special community. 

At the new student devotional a couple of weeks ago, President Kauwe explained: 

“This community is tight-knit. We rely on each other. We have a special responsibility to support each other here at the University, but also to support the Laie Hawaii Temple, and the community of people from all over the world that have lived here for generations.  

"Your actions here, whether you are on campus, at the Polynesian Cultural Center, at Laie Shopping Center, at Hukilau Beach, directly impact the spiritual and temporal safety and stability of the Temple and the community that supports it. We have a responsibility to preserve this community as an oasis of righteousness and Christ-like love. 

"The Honor Code, including the dress and grooming standards, is part of that responsibility.  

"The dress and grooming standards apply to all of us, all the time. They are the dress code of our campus. You have made a voluntary commitment to follow them. The Lord expects you to keep that commitment. The university expects you to keep that commitment. The people who live and work in this community expect you to keep that commitment. Continued adherence to the Honor Code and dress and grooming standards is not a matter of preference or opinion. It is a matter of personal integrity and a requisite for your continued attendance at BYU–Hawaii.”  4

Integrity is contagious. When we live according to its principles, others catch on. We can be an example to each other as we work together to uphold the Honor Code and Dress and Grooming Standards. If you don’t know the details of the dress and grooming standards, please take the time today and read through them. Then consider how well you are keeping the commitment you made. What can you do better? Start making those changes today. And can I ask that we be gentle and careful as we support and encourage each other in our journeys towards greater integrity? Let’s be like Ping in the Empty Pot story and focus on following through with the commitments that we have made while helping others do the same. We are all working to be better.

President Nelson recently asked us to increase our efforts to honor our covenants and follow God. Just last month in General Conference, he said that, “As you act on these pursuits, I promise you the ability to move forward on the covenant path with increased momentum, despite whatever obstacles you face. And I promise you greater strength to resist temptation, more peace of mind, freedom from fear, and greater unity in your families.” 5

I feel the spirit on this campus, and I know it is because of you and the choices you are making. Thank you for what you are doing to become better disciples of Jesus Christ. You bring great joy to me and our family.

I love you and want the best for you. May you receive heaven’s help as you learn and grow in integrity and your testimony of the Savior and His divine plan for you. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


  1. Demi, "The Empty Pot," Henry Holt and Company, 1990.
  2. Russell M. Nelson, "Let Your Faith Show," General Conference, April 2014.
  3. "Do What is Right," Hymns, 237.
  4. John S.K. Kauwe III, An Example in This Little Place, April 24, 2022.
  5. Russell M. Nelson, "The Power of Spiritual Momentum," April 2022.