Recently I was in a meeting with some Sales and Marketing people. I’m the Operations guy so I have the task of actually producing the stuff that the sales people are selling – on time, on budget, etc. During this particular meeting with a potential new customer there was lots jargon and business terminology being thrown about but mostly (it seemed to me) to be a contest of who could come up with the ‘best turn of phrase’. We talked about having “boots on the ground” and “the right DNA” and there was talk of “paradigm shifting” and “proof of concept”. My favorite was when someone stated, “remember, we don’t have to build the church for Easter Sunday”. Wow – I was clearly out of my league! All this became sort of a game of one-upmanship. For a while all I heard was, “wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah”. I had little to add, except for the occasional nod to their collective brilliance.
It occurred to me that for some folks there is a tremendous need to “play the part”. They feel driven to look and sound the way that their audience expects them to behave. This is exactly why I’m not in Sales. I suppose that I’m too transparent. But at least I’m true to myself (I think?).
I thought later about how many of us feel compelled to behave a certain way. We may not even believe what we espouse but we carry on as if we do. Perhaps if you repeat something often enough you will begin to believe it. “I will be kind.” “I will be kind.” “I will be kind.” Or maybe not…
There’s a guy that I know who is very pious. He carries himself with a certain air of holiness that is quite convincing, if not in fact true. He puts on quite a show of prayer and solemnity at Mass. He approaches the altar for Eucharist with great care and much bowing and reverence. He holds himself up as the epitome of righteousness. But at the end of day, he’s still an asshole.
Now I know that God alone knows his heart and soul. And perhaps when he’s approaching the altar he’s asking God to forgive his unkindness. Or maybe not. I for one would be much happier if this guy spent a little more energy on being loving than on being pious.
But now of course it’s my turn: “I will not judge.” “I will not judge.” “I will not judge.” Or maybe I will… Being honest is hard, especially being honest with yourself. So maybe I’m more of a “Sales Person” than I think – perhaps I’m trying to convince myself that I’m ALWAYS the good guy.
I’ll bet God is laughing at that. Thankfully, I know that God is forgiving me as well.
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-4)