Covered or Concealed?

I’ve had the honor of serving as a volunteer police chaplain for about fourteen years. It gives me great appreciation for the risks many in law enforcement face in their effort to serve and protect.

Years ago, I did some critical incident training with other civilian chaplains. I remember the instructor walking us through the appropriate steps to take if, or when, someone is shooting at you (this is where I started taking detailed notes. The content seemed important).

“If you’re taking fire,” he explained, “you want to look for cover or concealment.” 
What’s the difference? According to my friend Captain Jamie Breckenridge, USA, concealment is when you position yourself behind leaves or brush. If you’re concealed, you are on the other side of anything that can obscure the enemy’s view of you, but won’t stop rounds fired in your direction.

Cover is safer, more solid. Cover offers the protection of brick, concrete, thick steel: anything you know will stop bullets. If you have the option for cover, but you choose conceal, it could mean the difference between life and death.

The book of Proverbs is a field guide for our character battles. While the stakes might not mean losing our physical lives, they are still incredibly high. If we make wrong choices on the character front, we can lose jobs, relationships, influence or reputation.

Proverbs 10:9 says “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.” In light of the aforementioned conversation, think of it this way:

People of integrity are always covered.
Crooked people are merely concealed.

If you are committed to integrity, you are the same person everywhere you go and in every set of circumstances. Whoever said, “Character is who you are when no one is looking” had a solid grasp on integrity. The root word for integrity, “integer,” means a whole number, no fractions. A whole person isn’t splintered or fractured; he or she conveys the same values and convictions, whether in public or private, in the light or in the shade, on both good days and bad.

Crooked people? Not so much. Crooked people are opportunists. They wear different faces in different circles depending on which position or posture best serves their agenda. Crooked people twist words, truths, and relationships to serve their private aims. Crooked people, and we’ve all had our crooked seasons, are unpredictable: you never know what you’re going to get.

Because people of integrity are the same everywhere, they’re not nervous. They don’t have to keep track of their deceits and betrayals; they’re not constantly keeping inventory of which version of the truth they told to which person. In a sense, people of integrity can walk safely in a character firefight.

But over time (may be weeks, could be months, might be years), a crooked person’s concealment breaks down. In the end, he’s totally exposed for exactly what he’s been, a fraud.

How’s your integrity gauge these days? Are you covered? Or just concealed?


Craig Custance