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Daryl’s Integrity

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 27, 2011

In another life and in a galaxy far, far away (well, twentyish years ago, and in Provo, Utah), I worked for a largish company as its training and quality assurance guru. The company had started out small, literally in the garage of one of the owners, and had expanded to the point where, after I had worked there several years, a layer of middle management was considered advisable.

Hence the arrival of the young man whom I shall call Daryl. Daryl was a fresh graduate of BYU’s business school, a young man eager to establish his mark on the corporate world by managing the heck out of me, a technical writer, and a young woman whose particular job I can no longer remember. He intended to mold the three of us into an organization embodying and validating his own theories of management.

Daryl did this by holding meetings with the three of us – daily, sometimes twice daily, meetings where we listened to him talk about his theories. One major theory concerned “integrity,” by which he did not mean what you and I usually mean by that word (i.e., honesty, sincerity, keeping one’s promises); in his language, “integrity” meant a peculiar oneness of behavior and thought through all parts of your life. You behaved exactly the same toward your wife as you did toward your church fellows; you incorporated patterns practiced at work into your life at church; you governed your working life the same as you did the allocation of home chores. Integrity, he insisted, meant being united within yourself, with one set of actions at all times and in all places. I used to feel sorry for his wife, and grateful that his theories led him to treat her as an employee rather than me as a wife.

Did I mention that Daryl, as well as we three employees, were all LDS? Well, it was Provo, and we were.

So …

He saw no problem with running his department as if we were a church auxiliary – we were all LDS, weren’t we? Integrity demanded oneness of action!

Our daily/twice-daily meetings opened and closed with prayer. We didn’t sing hymns, thankfully; Daryl was one who liked the sound of his own voice, certainly, but he evidently preferred the sound of his speaking voice to that of his singing voice. Or maybe it was a matter of singing being too democratic; Daryl definitely preferred the autocratic.

We did have scripture readings – not a simple “inspirational thought,” but a full-fledged sermon, by Daryl, with a message selected to inculcate the virtue of obedience. And of organization. And of deference to leaders.

Especially deference to leaders.

And not just leaders who, like kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, had the duty of governing in a secular sense. Daryl’s integrity led him to consider all leaders — or at least those he was concerned with — as priesthood leaders. Called and sustained, not hired or elected. Leaders appointed by God, so that failure to honor them was equivalent to fighting against God.

I remember the meeting where I realized that Daryl saw his position in our company as just such a leader. He may have been hired by the company president, but that was merely worldly confirmation that he had been placed in sacred authority by God. Integrity demanded that he should exercise the same authority at work as he exercised in his elders’ quorum assignment, or in his patriarchal position at home, and he stressed that we – the lay members of his department – owed him the same respect, the same submission, the same obedience we would offer to a bishop or stake president or general authority in their spheres, and for precisely the same reasons.

That was an interesting, short, and high decibel meeting … the last such meeting we ever held. I went to the company president, who really didn’t appreciate the depth of the problem (would you, in his place? could you conceive of an employee crossing boundaries that way?), but he did tell Daryl to “knock off the religious stuff.” Our meetings became less “integrated,” as well as less frequent.

I don’t know where Daryl is today. I picture him sometimes as running a bizarre cult somewhere in the desert … except that he was anything but charismatic (the man wore pajama bottoms and flipflops to the office!), and I can’t quite imagine who would follow him anywhere. He had convinced some poor woman to marry him, though, so I’ve never quite abandoned the expectation, whenever I read about some religious commune or militia cell or other closed society, of seeing Daryl’s name in the news reports. He has his integrity, after all.



19 Comments »

  1. Not wishing to be unkind, but I genuinely offer the opinion that Daryl sounds as if he had mental health problems. Even nowadays, on a dress-down Friday at work, I doubt he’d get away with that kind of attire, and I can’t begin to imagine how he managed it twenty-odd years ago in Provo.

    Comment by Alison — October 27, 2011 @ 7:09 am

  2. I’ve very much enjoyed the recent column in the New York Times, “Think Like a Doctor,” where a doctor presents a difficult medical case and the readers pose questions and get to guess the diagnosis.

    So do we get to guess Daryl’s?

    My first guess would be delusional disorder, grandiose type. (See here.) But as the link mentions, the diagnosis needs to be differentiated from other things including schizophrenia and mood disorders.

    Comment by Researcher — October 27, 2011 @ 7:14 am

  3. Isn’t it interesting how easy it is to cross a line from truth to falsehood? Integrity does mean having the same set of values by which you live your life – not one set for church, another for your family, another for work, etc. However, he certainly crossed the line. “Delusional disorder, grandiose type” – sounds like a good diagnosis to me!

    Comment by Rosemary — October 27, 2011 @ 7:24 am

  4. I truly hope that the Business School at BYU has improved since then!

    Comment by Rameumptom — October 27, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  5. Yeah, I tried that kind of stuff with my employees too. Nobody seemed to like fasting on Thursdays, and the company Handcart Trek was a non-starter.

    Comment by -MMM- — October 27, 2011 @ 8:18 am

  6. I know how you love it when the relatives of your historical figures recognize their family and write to Keepa. Maybe one will write and give us an update with diagnosis.

    Comment by Carol — October 27, 2011 @ 8:47 am

  7. Ardis,

    Your text reminds me of a thought pattern I have been working with for a long time. The corporate management style of leadership we are comfortable with in the United States seems to have been adopted within our church units, and that is regrettable because it doesn’t fit, in my mind (and perhaps not in yours, based on your text). Rather, I prefer the style of Jethro’s tent in Midian, where I imagine Jethro as the Lord’s priest. He has his flocks and wives and children, and I have mine — and we gather together once in a while for worship and ordinances — we sit in the tent together, as host and guest, as neighbors, as brothers — the kids play together outside — the wives work on the food together — the daughters get ready to dance for everyone — when it is time, he leads us in worship and ordinances because he holds the priesthood keys. But he is not my manager or supervisor — he is my neighbor, my brother. He doesn’t give me taskings and require reports from me; rather, we visit and we talk. He asks me from time to time if I might do this, or do that, and I accept to the degree that I am able and with a deep sense of respect for him and his office. But he is not my manager or supervisor — he is my neighbor, my brother, and I sustain him as the Lord’s priest in Midian where I live.

    This is my imagination, perhaps, but somehow I feel this model is closer to the scriptural model of “leadership” than the corporate management style we seem to have adopted.

    Please note that the emphasis in my words is on the relationship between me and the Lord’s priest — my words describing wives and children were merely for illustration.

    Comment by ji — October 27, 2011 @ 8:47 am

  8. Ardis-
    you certainly have met your share of odd characters. I guess we ‘ninnies only add to the richness of that experience.

    Comment by Grant — October 27, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  9. Yeah, Grant, if I live that long, I’ll be telling stories about ‘ninnies in twenty years.

    I wonder why other people don’t meet as many oddballs as I do. I think sometimes that people just don’t notice. Last year, for instance, my home teachers came a couple of hours after a Sunday School lesson on the Second Coming. I asked them what they had thought about the announcement in class that Jesus would return before 2020. Wha–? They hadn’t heard anything about that! I asked them what they thought Bro. X meant when — in the context of a discussion on the Second Coming, remember — he told us about going to the Passion Play in Oberammergau “because it was the last time that was going to be presented — a word to the wise is sufficient.” Didn’t they realize he was claiming that Jesus would return before 2020, the next scheduled date of the Passion Play? “Oh, yeah. I guess that’s what he meant. Well, he works for the Church, so he should probably know.” Yawn. Next topic.

    Me, I notice. Can’t help it.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 27, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  10. It reminds me of the only Mormon I’ve ever worked with since law school–thankfully I wasn’t his employee–who always talked about how good things had come to his business as an answer to prayer. I could never figure out how lousy service and overinflated fees were consistent with answers to prayers.

    When his testimonials provoked demurrals from me, I suspect he just thought I was weak in the faith.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 27, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  11. “Well, he works for the Church, so he should probably know”

    – Dang! His staff meetings must be far better than the ones I go to. All we talk about are budgets and running our operation. We missed out on the date of the Second Coming Memo.

    Comment by andrew h — October 27, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  12. The “Daryl’s” of the Church make me wonder when Joseph Smith’s teaching of “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves” turned into “I teach them correct principles and micro-manage them into the ground.”

    Comment by andrew h — October 27, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  13. At first, I thought you might have something positive to say about Daryl’s view of integrity, ie that you are the same person at work that you are at home, which actually makes some sense. But Daryl obviously went way overboard, except the integrity FAIL relating to his work attire. Did he go to church wearing pajama bottoms and flip flops? I think not. Petty, worthless, tyrant behavior.

    This story reminds me somewhat of a troubled relationship one of my kids had with their landlord at Ricks about 12 years ago. He insisted that since he was in the bishopric of the student ward my daughter attended, that he be called “Bro. Landlord” all week long. I pointed out to her that the two relationships were different, and while on Sunday and at church activities, he could be Bro. Landlord, but the rest of the time he was Mr. Landlord, often Mr. Slum Landlord. It helped my daughter and her roommates a lot, as his behavior towards them certainly reflected a huge difference between the two roles.

    Comment by kevinf — October 27, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

  14. I’ve been fairly fortunate in my experiences with fellow Mormons in the workplace. However, this does remind me of the brother Saint who approached me about a “technical consulting opportunity”, got me to let him meet with me in my home, and turned out to be recruiting for Amway. When he tried the line about my priesthood duty to make greater wealth with which to do good, I invited him to leave. Insisted, actually.

    This confusion of spheres of life reminds me of how Leviticus uses “confusion” to describe incest and bestiality. I also vaguely recall being taught by Wilford Griggs that the etymology of “pornography” had its roots in this concept of confusion. Unfortunately, I can’t confirm that right now because my NetNanny won’t let me search on the word “pornography.”

    Comment by Vader — October 27, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

  15. I’ve come across a blogger or two, and a few more blog-commenters who I think are along the lines of Daryl.

    I’ve met a couple Daryl’s in real life (ie, off the ‘net). If they marry a sufficiently timid and pliable woman with low self-esteem, they can stay married for a while, but not in the long run.

    And looking back with older eyes, I think that when I was a District Leader as a missionary, I probably had some similarities to Daryl.

    (And here’s hoping you’ve changed his name.)

    Comment by Bookslinger — October 28, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  16. The blurring of religious beliefs and secular action can be scary.

    I’m aware of some LDS folks in my town who have become firmly convinced that the Apocalypse is unfolding as we speak (the latest was that WWIII was to be launched in the next couple weeks).

    Some of these folks have sold businesses, laying off employees. Most have turned their homes into bunkers. Stockpiled food, fuel and guns.

    But, that nuttiness is not enough. No. They are taking an idiotic book by Cleon Skousen around trying to convert folks to their views. The book is entitled “Cleansing America” and it predicts a massive plague will wipe out 90% of the folks in the U.S.

    If you reject their proselytizing, they react angrily and indicate you will be one who will die in the plague and its aftermath.

    Comment by Steve — October 28, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  17. Daryl’s integrity led him to consider all leaders — or at least those he was concerned with — as …called and sustained, not hired or elected… so that failure to honor them was equivalent to fighting against God

    This has been a very thought provoking post for me. I’ve been able to keep my testimony much safer since i mentally began distinguishing between church employees and priesthood leaders. I’ve heard horror stories, though, of more than a few “Daryl’s” working in the CES and COB.

    Don’t these guys realize that the Lord said “no power can be maintained [solely] by virtue of the priesthood?” It sounds like all the other necessary attributes ennumerated in D&C121 were completely lost on this guy.

    Comment by The Other Clark — October 28, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  18. “The blurring of religious beliefs and secular action can be scary.”

    And why should that be? Are they really such separate spheres? Sounds like Daryl may have got it wrong, but I’d like for people to make their morals a greater part of their public and economic activities, not less.

    Comment by Tertium Squid — October 28, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  19. Unfortunately, for many, it isn’t a question of their morals, it is their desire to foist their beliefs and what derives from those beliefs off on others.

    One can believe in honesty, integrity, service to others, etc. and express those traits in your day-to-day dealings.

    But, when you try to say that your beliefs dictate the role of women in the workplace or how others live their day-to-day lives, that crosses a line.

    Comment by Steve — October 28, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

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