Part of what I do for a living includes placing TV and radio advertising. Occasionally we have a TV spot created at one station, then air it on several stations.
A few weeks ago I needed to pick up a TV spot that had been dubbed for me by one of the stations in town. I had asked that they call me when the dupe was ready, then I would pick it up on the way home or during lunch hour. I got the call on a Wednesday morning that the dupes were completed and waiting for me. I decided I’d pick them up on my way to lunch.
As it turns out, when I arrived three hours later the items were not at the front desk. My manner was not sympathetic. In fact, I was irritable and demanding. I went out of my way to be there and by my demeanor I let the receptionist know it. I didn’t cuss or throw things, but I was definitely impolite, inconsiderate and not kind.
When I returned an hour later, I expected to find them at the front desk and they were still not there. I did not go ballistic, but I was not a nice guy. At the time I justified myself by noting how much responsibility I have, how I was told the tapes would be there, etc. But these were not the receptionist’s thoughts. (She was probably thinking, “Who does this jerk think he is?”) Nor was it the receptionist’s fault.
The incident was brought to my attention in a somewhat embarrassing manner. The receptionist apparently spoke with someone about what I had done (yes, it was bad behavior) and this person mentioned it to the very top brass of the TV station who contacted a manager at where I work regarding my bad behavior. The manager who learned of this did not broadcast it abroad but came directly to me and notified me that what I had done reflected badly on the company.
In sharing this he indicated that he suspected there was more to the story, which there was, but still, it made me feel shame. I had come across as far more overbearing and intimidating than I realized. Furthermore, it reflected badly on the company for whom I am a representative.
In his book Leading with the Heart, Duke Coach Mike
Krzyzewski, today’s most successful NCAA basketball coach, describes how he
learned to take personal responsibility for his words and his life. It was at
That is just our problem, isn’t it? We are full of excuses. No matter how badly we behave, how insensitive or outrageous we are, we find a way to blame others or circumstances, or even God. “Why have you made me this way, God?”
It has been often observed that one of our great skills is this very thing, explaining away our shortcomings, making excuses instead of taking responsibility. When we were first married I neglected to tell my parents that it was Susie’s birthday the first time we went home. Instead of apologizing to my wife for this negligence, I began making excuses. “Well, we have been on the road two days and I lost track of time and gee…” It was bad behavior.
Ironically, we seldom excuse others their shortcomings and faults, even though the Lord is explicit in condemning that kind of behavior. (see Matt. 7:1-5)
In His Name
When we were children we were pretty much self-absorbed. But other parents in the neighborhood knew who we were and who our families were. When the police showed up at our house a couple times, my parents might have a chance to explain it to some neighbors, but there were other neighbors who did not know details, only that the police had been at the Newman’s again.
So it is in our church community and the community at large. Just as my behavior reflected badly on my company in the story at the beginning, so it is that our behavior reflects positively or negatively upon our local church and on Christ. Hopefully, everyone who knows us already knows we are Christians. If so, it is all the more important for us to be daily living in a manner worthy of the name we bear. This is more than simply not swearing, or not telling bad jokes in the office. It has to do with demonstrating the love of Christ in the way we interact with others. For every single encounter with another is an opportunity to be an agent of healing and redemption.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~ Eph. 2:10