You blessed me today through a call with some precious brothers and sisters in Christ. The conversation turned to a topic of Deep Truth. The topic was Authenticity. One person on the call relayed the news that she had just acquired a new client — a person who had been following her website posts for a full year.
Your Lesson today was important, Lord. It may take a long time for us, as Christians in business, to build the “Know, Like and Trust Factor.” People are always watching us, checking us out… drawing conclusions about what they see. Are we genuine in our faith, or are we using a Christian “veneer” as a sales pitch? Are we walking our talk? Are we who we say we are?
There is so much “glitter” in the marketplace, grabbing people’s attention. So much that sounds good and turns out to be “too good” to be true. So much “bait and switch.” So much “overpromise” and “under-deliver.” Maybe that’s why the oh-so-important “Know, Like and Trust Factor” can be oh-so-elusive. People feel “Unknown, Disliked and Betrayed.”
“Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)
People are looking for The Real Deal. But it may take awhile for them to recognize it… even when they find it.
I couldn’t help but remember my near disaster just weeks ago. I had met the Executive Director of the local Chamber of Commerce – a woman of influence, to be sure. After we met, You prompted me to send her a “nice to meet you” card… so I did. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that I discovered my Royal Snafu. On the outside of the envelope, I had written her name correctly. On the inside of the card, I had written a totally different name.
My heart sank into my feet as that wise old saying flashed across my mind: “You only have one chance to make a good first impression.” HA! So much for that! And in a small town, where everybody knows each other… and everybody talks to each other, especially about The New Kids on the Block???
My immediate emotion was embarrassment and my instinct was to hide. Maybe if I don’t see her for awhile – like never again?! – she’ll eventually forget??? Maybe she won’t tell absolutely everybody about The New Girl Who Doesn’t Have Her Act Together???
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
I know You are referring to Your Word in this verse, Lord… but, somehow, it still fits. I was trying to do my best – to honor You, even in this small thing… but I blew it. I blew my one chance to make a good first impression. But I will be forever grateful that You, Lord, are the God of Second Chances!!! You said, “Be authentic, even now. Own your mistake. Apologize. Try again.”
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
I found the perfect card. It had a big egg on the front with the caption, “You’re a Good Egg.” Inside, You had me write this note:
“I picked this card because you ARE a Good Egg… and because I have EGG on my face!!! I sent you a card recently, to thank you for your warm welcome. I JUST discovered the MISTAKE I’m sure was obvious to you the moment you opened the card. [I described the mistake, then said] Oh my… I could say it was a “senior moment”… but I’m not that senior! Oh well… I hope you know my heart was in the right place, even if my brain wasn’t! Will you please forgive me?… and accept this gift [brownies!] to “sweeten” my heartfelt apology? I hope so… and I hope to see you again soon!”
I hadn’t seen her since then… until just last week, at another communitywide event. I didn’t see her coming. Suddenly, there she was… giving me a BIG HUG!!! She said, laughing: “Thank you SO much for the cards and the brownies!” I said, “I do hope you will forgive me!” She said, “I keep those cards on my desk… I LOVE THEM!” AMAZING.
One chance to make a good first impression? True enough. But what I didn’t expect was what You did, Lord… after I had thoroughly blown that first chance. You took my “lemon” and turned it into lemonade. You took my failure and turned it into a new friend. AMAZING.
I am not advocating making a practice of “blowing it” or attempting to turn it into an art form! 🙂 But I do have to ponder this whole scenario with no small amount of wonder.
Authenticity, come what may. Had my first card been mistake-free, it might have been appreciated, but soon lost (i.e., forgotten) in a sea of “proper” professional prose. Had I hidden, hoping my “faux pas” (social blunder) would be forgotten, I might have been forever perceived (by myself and others) as the punch line of a bad joke. Instead, Lord, You created a radically-different lasting impression that my new friend and I will remember — and laugh about — for years to come! AMAZING.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3;20)