Why is it important to be honest?


Why is it important to be honest? (Come Follow Me September Young Women Lesson)

Here is our study and teaching package for the lesson: “Why is it important to be honest?”

You can find this package (and see more pictures) HERE.

Or it is a part of our seven lesson September combo package HERE.

Every righteous parent tries to instill the importance of honesty upon their children. The Come Follow Me curriculum has a fantastic lesson plan on this with really, REALLY good stories that are applicable to all ages.   You can find it HERE.  I would like to share a few thoughts that goes with the lesson ideas.

I don’t know if all youth connect their character and abilities to the little lies they may tell now and then, and I definitely don’t think all of them connect copying their friend’s homework to their ability of being a really powerful missionary.  But check out this quote in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet:

When you are honest, you build strength of character that will allow you to be of great service to God and others.”  (For the Strength of Youth, Honesty and Integrity)


Lets take cheating as an example, and I have mentioned before in other articles that it wasn’t uncommon for me to walk into my seminary classroom and see students copying assignments for their next class.  If your kids go to school, cheating is in their culture and they are faced with it every day.  The Come Follow Me Curriculum has some really good stories about cheating that will be great to share with your youth, and I wish I would have had the video in that curriculum to share with my students.  I dealt with the situations differently, but usually I would walk up to them, put my hand on their shoulder and say, “you will be happier if you don’t do that.”

I used to draw a diagram like the one offered in our lesson package on the board.  I liked to show them the consequences to their choices and how there is only ONE positive consequence to cheating:  getting a good grade.  But, there are many negative consequences that are tied to that one positive.  “So,” you can ask them, “is it worth it?”

When it comes to cheating, there are three basic choices:

First: Don’t cheat and come prepared.

This is the ideal situation with the most long lasting and desirable consequences and shows the purpose of school and gaining an education.  This one has the brightest, most sure, future.  I don’t think one person wouldn’t want the consequences – but these consequences take work and courage.

Second:   Don’t cheat and come unprepared.

This choice does have some negative consequences, but there are also eternally positive consequences because they are choosing to take accountability (and not cover up) their lack of being prepared.  Of course we are not talking about perpetual unpreparedness – that will have its own set of consequences.

Third: Chooses to cheat

The reason students to choose to cheat is because they want a good grade and this is a way to get it.  What they fail to realize are the consequences that follow, like deceiving your teacher, not learning the subject, and loss of character.  I don’t think any youth would want any of those negative consequences – but they are part of the package. And the lasting danger is that they begin to shrug it off and are desensitized to it.

Many kids may focus on the importance of their grade and don’t want to upset their parents with receiving a low mark, but what they may not consider is that most parents would gladly take the lower grade for that assignment or test if it means that their child maintains their integrity and learns an important life lesson.

If you teach this lesson to the young men and young women, there will likely be many among you who will feel guilty for past occurrences.  The cool thing about this is that it is a really easy thing to change and take accountability for.  It is easy to never cheat again and you can help instill that confidence in them as they see the importance of living honestly in everything they do.

Teaching Why

Cheating is a good and relevant way to discuss the importance of being honest. After you discuss that diagram you could then make new diagrams that are applicable to other situations. For example: Lying to your parents vs. telling them the truth, exaggerating a story to your friends vs. telling them the real story, not putting in an honest days work vs. working your shift to your greatest ability, etc. Then you could discuss the consequences of each choice. The thing I like about this is you aren’t just saying “it is important to be honest”, you are helping them see “why” which always gives you more power.

I will end with a VERY good quote about the fundamental importance of honesty:

” If all mankind were honest, we could have heaven here on earth. We would have no need for armies or navies, nor even a policeman in the smallest community, for there would be no crime, no invasion of other people’s rights, no violence of one person against another.

“There would be no grounds for divorce, nor would we have errant husbands or unfaithful wives. Conflict between children and parents would disappear, and juvenile delinquency would come to an end.

“But in our society is there anything more widespread than the tendency to lie and deceive?

“It is the lie of the drug peddler that tempts a child to indulge, and the lie of the seducer that persuades a girl to surrender her virtue….

“It is the lie of the shoddy workman that hides a faulty repair….

“It is the lie on the lips of the neighborhood gossip that brings character assassination to many innocent victims.

“It is the dishonest one who seeks to take advantage of or to humiliate or to deliberately injure a fellow human being….

“We Latter-day Saints believe in God, and because we believe in him, we also believe there is a devil. But the devil himself is a liar—the father of lies—and those who choose to cheat and lie and deceive and misrepresent become his slaves.”   (Elder Mark E. Petersen, October 1971 General Conference)

Wow.  Isn’t that a fantastic and thought provoking quote?

Ok… here are a few more:

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

It is a great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual, he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world’s believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826);
3rd U.S. President

Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)



3 thoughts on “Why is it important to be honest?

  1. I love the idea for doing diagrams. I think we are going to make some simple ones for my younger kids and have them put the consequences under the right choices – we could do that for so many situations. Thank you!

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