I just returned from a wonderful event called CPE (Christian Product EXPO). In a nutshell, this is a time for retailers to view new potential products for their stores. My goal, as an author representing my new book, was to do everything in my power to get a book in their hands, hoping and praying they will either read it and order more or just stick it on their shelf and see if anyone buys it (then, in theory, they order more to replace it).
Over three days I managed to have meaningful conversations about my story and gave away 150 books. My favorite part was when I went rogue and left my booth, giving my books away to anyone who hadn’t already stopped by. I met several people by divine accident who had a cousin, a friend, a granddaughter, or a husband who was battling cancer. Sometimes it was even my particular brand, leukemia. These people would then receive not only my new book but my first book, signed specifically for that person.
It was a beautifully exhausting 3 days. So many poignant conversations. Too many to tell you about and it would take way more than the 1,000-word max I am able to focus on in one blog.
But I want, I need, to tell you about one of them.
I don’t usually talk about specific people in my blogs, especially when I am telling you some less than flattering details about them. But let’s just use what I took away from this particular person to help us understand some attitudes and behaviors that might prevent us from being “that guy”.
I worried a little at first that he might read this and feel embarrassed. But as I thought more about it, I realized he probably would not be reading this, and here is why:
I approached this particular retailer as he and another couple of retailers were chatting casually. I had two books in my hand and asked if I could give them a book. Two of them said they had “already received one, thanks so much”. The other guy looked me straight in the eyes and told me bluntly, “No, I don’t want one”. I think he could see that his curtness took me aback so he explained himself; “I mean, I guess I could lie to you and tell you I want one and then go home and throw it in the trash…”.
He actually said that to me. About my book. “Throw it in the trash.”
I laughed a bit nervously, trying to save the conversation, so I said, “Hey, you never know! It could change your life!”
To which he responded, “The Bible is the only book that can change your life.”
I was pretty stunned and didn’t stick around to say the dozens of quippy remarks that have come to me since then, so I simply said, “Alrighty then!”, and walked away.
Don’t think that this negative conversation was my biggest takeaway from the event. But, it does give me some phenomenal bullet points and I will enlighten you with one of them now. 🙂
1) Being is JERK FOR JESUS is not a thing.
Yes, we are all broken and flawed and will probably struggle with many of our character defects for the rest of our lives in some form or another. I think God understands that and so do most humans. We have to give each other grace.
However, above all things, God calls us to be loving and kind. Do we sometimes have to speak hard truths to people? Yes, but even then, it should only be done out of pure love and without judgment. Harshness, arrogance, and rudeness have no place in the demeanor of anyone who claims to be living out the calling of God.
Have you ever met, or have you ever been, the guy or girl who seems to think it is their job to be a “truth-teller” for Jesus? No matter the side effects on other people?
One slogan I love involves a list of questions about what we should and should let come out of our mouths. Before you say it ask yourself:
- Does it need to be said? (Yes or No?)
- Does it need to be said by me? (Yes or No?)
- Does it need to be said by me right now? (Yes or No?)
- Does it need to be said by me with a judgmental, harsh, rude, arrogant, self-righteous, self-seeking attitude or tone? (No. No it does not. Not ever.)
One question a mentor of mine always asks me when I point out someone else’s behavior that is akin to the response of “that guy” from the convention is, “Do you want what they have?”
Naturally, I absolutely do not want whatever type of faith or religion “that guy” has. But as usual, God is using the, “if you spot it you got it” principle on me.
I have to ask myself that same question as I live out my particular brand of faith. “Would others want what I have?”
When I worry and fret and refuse to turn over my fears to God, would that make someone want to investigate and embrace the kind of life I live?
When I talk about someone behind their back, yet right in front of the God who created them and loves them fiercely (even “that guy”), do I demonstrate that I see people with God’s eyes of grace?
When I freak out about the state of the world and our government and bash or avoid people who don’t think like me, am I drawing people toward a God who unifies and desires peace among His children?
You get the picture.
I remember talking, well, more like ranting, about people, places, and things beyond my control and people who were infuriating me and causing me distress. He said, “don’t you go to some type of recovery program?” I told him that, yes, I did (I attend a program that is designed to help me focus on myself and not be codependent on others’ behavior for my serenity). He said matter-of-factly, “It’s not working.” (I told him that unfortunately, it is…this is me, better than I used to be! Scary truth.)
I am now exceeding 1,000 words and I am pretty sure you, and especially me, have a hard time listening much past that threshold. So I will stick to this one lesson for today. Maybe “that guy” will become a series, because I have many more lessons we can learn from him.
So, just for today, pay attention to yourself. Would others want what you have based on how you treat and talk to and about others? Would your sweetness, patience, and humility cause a family member or even a perfect stranger to wonder how they could live more like you? Would it prompt them to seek God or run from Him (or at least His people)?
Don’t kid yourself. All the Bible studying (I think “that guy” might not have gotten to the gospels where we see the compassion and gentleness of Jesus) and “truth-telling” in the world will not draw people to surrender to a kind and loving God if we are jerks.
DON’T BE A JERK FOR JESUS.