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  • Writer's pictureDawn Wallis

All Hat and No Cattle: Why Integrity Matters

Yesterday I was speaking with a dear friend when she began to describe a mutual acquaintance who duped her. The person she was referring to convinced her that he was proficient in an area that, she later learned, he knew absolutely nothing about. He talked a big game but when it came time to deliver, he was found wanting.

The Southernism "all hat and no cattle" refers to a person who projects themselves as a big shot, but in reality cannot deliver. On anything. In other words, all talk and no action. I find these types of people trying because the only thing bigger than their mouth is their pride. And pride is what provides the kindling that fuels their tongue.

Perhaps it's human nature to want to impress people, but being found out as a phony and a fool makes an impression no one desires. Many people will justify embellishing their accomplishments, padding their resumes, and telling "white" lies (Is there is such thing as a black lie? I wonder...) and fibs. Yet, it's always best to be truthful because exaggerations and lies of all kinds eventually make their way into the light.

The saddest thing about the person my friend was discussing was not that he deceived her. Rather, it's that he has convinced himself that his lies are truths. If he continues to live as all hat and no cattle long enough, he'll eventually get bucked off the horse and wind up face down in the dirt. But maybe that is a lesson that he needs. While I have not been an all hat and no cattle kind of person, I have battled pride. I have also experienced my share of humiliating moments that have proved instructive in teaching humility.

Lord, I pray this week, I would mean what I say and say what I mean. Let my words be an accurate portrayal of who I am, and help me walk in integrity. Amen.

all hat and no cattle

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