Ethical Choices: Spiritual Consequences
Have you ever been caught up in the vicious cycle of wanting more? If you have ever thought that what you have is not good enough, that you want more, that you are insatiable, then this series of articles will stop you in your tracks and change your life forever. In an unusually vulnerable style, Chuck Gallagher brings home the consequences of the decisions he has made in his attempts to build the great American dream for him and his family. You will never forget this dramatic story filled with success and failure, ethics and illusions, and consequences and choices.
Anyone that knew me, at the time, would have said that I was basically an honest and ethical person. I was respected in my community, a community and civic leader, active in my church, serving as music director. No one, not even I, would have suspected that ten years later that I would be an inmate in Federal Prison.
Have you ever found yourself over-extended? I did and I admit that I liked that lifestyle. The only problem was my bank account couldn’t support that lifestyle. This became the groundwork for the seed to be planted.
Throughout our lives, in fact many times during our lives, we are faced with temptations. It is not the temptation that's the issue; it's how we respond to it that defines us. In my case, I was more concerned with maintaining the illusion of success than I was with my own honesty and integrity.
After one Christmas, some twenty years ago, I received a call from my local banker, who said, “Chuck, we noticed that you're behind in your house payment. Is their problem?” Now, being a successful tax partner in a CPA firm, I certainly did not want to appear to be incapable of managing my own money. So, of course, I suggested that his records were wrong and asked him to check again. The reality was, however, I was behind.
I had a problem. I needed money! Then, it hit me. I was the trustee of a trust. Why not borrow money from the trust? So, I put on my trustee hat. I looked at myself and said, “Don't you need to borrow some money?” And as I took my trustee hat off, I replied, “Why, yes I do.
” And with that little interchange, I stole money from the trust and changed my life forever. I planted the seed into the groundwork I laid.
Have you ever had one of those moments in your life, when you wish you could just rewind the tape? You wish you could just do it over? That was one of those moments. The fact is, when you make a choice, you have to accept the consequences. By my choice, I set the consequence in motion. Therefore, I called the banker back, and apologizing profusely said, “My wife pays the bills. Considering this was our first Christmas with our new son, she must've just overlooked the house payment. I'll make sure you receive it today.” Of course, I took the stolen money and made the payment. Three months later, I paid back the trust. I convinced myself that it was just a loan. Unfortunately, I found out it was easy. Nobody was the wiser. It was easy to take money, in order to maintain the illusion. Thus, over the next several years, I took more.
Ten years later I found myself an inmate in Federal prison. I was reaping the consequences of the choices I made. From that first experience, I set into motion an outcome that would define my life forever. The following is an excerpt from my prison memoirs. Perhaps it can give you a glimpse of the reality of consequences one might face.
October 7, 1995. It's Saturday morning and I just had my first prison visit. As I walked out of the visitation room, several of the inmates were standing outside near the make shift barbershop. Buck was standing there, so I stopped. From that vantage point, inmates can see their loved ones leave. I can't begin to describe how moving this experience was. Loved ones waving to the inmates, children hollering – “I love you Daddy,” inmates waving in return. Buck said this was the saddest time for him. He saw his family leave, as I saw you leave. I choked back tears then, but feel the depth of emotion now.
As I write this now, I would prefer to be away from here. How precious is freedom, and how much we take it for granted. There is wonderful humanity here -- truly fine people, who made the wrong choice. Still, by the grace of God, I am protected. I have clothing, shelter and food.
We all seem to keep up this tough façade -- I guess it's a form of protection. But deep down, there's a level of sadness. Many have it worse than me. For now, I need to get outside. I know some changes are taking place. And yet I feel I have a long way to go.
Now, 2007 some twenty years after the crime and eleven years since I’ve seen the inside of a prison, I know the law of reaping and sowing in greater detail. I sowed the wrong seeds and reaped, what most would describe as, a negative harvest. Yet, over time I have seen the law applied in more positive ways than I can imagine.
Today I am planting good seeds. Through accepting responsibility and living an ethical life, I have been given a second chance. I am blessed to serve as a Sales Executive in a Publicly Traded Company; teaching many people how to improve their lives through success in sales. Likewise, through my efforts in speaking, various groups allow me to share my direct experiences of reaping and sowing – therefore, providing a framework for their personal growth. We all will eventually reap what we sow – that is a spiritual truth. The question is, will we enjoy the consequences of our choices? And believe me, there are always consequences to every choice we make. Chuck openly shares the experiences of his life through his keynote address: Success Beyond Illusion or Ethics: Negative Consequences – Positive Results. For information on how Chuck can speak to your organization and share his experiences contact Chuck at www.chuckgallagher.com.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
On a crisp October day in 1995, Chuck Gallagher took 23 physical steps… opened a door… and began a new experience that was life-changing. Gallagher explores that experience and the success that followed… while involving the reader in ways that could be life-altering for them. Gallagher captures the heart of the audience in an honest way that deals with human emotion. For information on Chuck’s keynotes and workshops go to www.chuckgallagher.com or for a free ezine on Ethical Choices contact Chuck at email@example.com.