Yesterday I had a fantastic meeting with a local CEO of a company. He’s quickly becoming a mentor and friend. He’s also a devout Christian. I’m a Christian as well… but before you click out of here, please let me explain. I believe in Jesus and I use Him as a mentor for how I treat others. At 39, I’ve not done too great a job at this but I do strive to improve. Here’s where I struggle:
- I find it hard to reach out to mean people. As I get older in life, I want to open my arms to mean people – but I’d rather not even give them the time of day. In a company with politics (is that every company?), I don’t play well with others. I simply don’t play. I hate the game – I just want to get the job done. I also hate being played. Nothing angers me more.
- I struggle with how much is enough. I rent because I don’t want to own a home. I drive a nice car. I don’t buy a lot of toys. In comparison to the rest of the world, I’m wealthy. In comparison to the United States, I’m middle class, perhaps a little under. Is it okay to be comfortable when others in the world are not? How comfortable can you be? Is it a sin to be wealthy? I don’t know.
- Should I be anti-war even if that means people will live in an oppressive dictatorship? Should I only worry about my country and our soldiers? Is it Christian to ‘mind your own business’ when others are suffering? If you see someone trying to kill another person and your only option to stop them is to kill them – is that Christian? The Ten Commandments state that we should not murder – common with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
- To be a great Christian, is it how you live your life, your relationship with God, or how you interpret the Bible? I’ve read a couple fantastic books on Biblical translation that provide absolute proof that errors have been made in translation. Some Christians might say I’m being blasphemous by even mentioning that. I just think it’s arrogant on our part to believe that in the translation from Aramaic, to Greek, to Latin (twice), to Queen’s English, to Modern English that we’ve not lost something in translation. It’s not that I don’t revere the Word, it’s just that I use it as a guide and not a literal set of directions.
- I like to laugh. I don’t like to laugh ‘at people’, but I do love to laugh ‘about people’. I’m a fat guy and I love jokes about fat guys. I’m a white guy and love to hear a great joke about white people. I laugh at all the politically incorrect jokes on South Park and have made quite a few myself. I think it’s okay to laugh about ourselves as long as it’s in good spirit, not mean-spirited. It’s our unique differences that make this world so colorful. Recognizing them instead of trying to hide them is key to us respecting one another.
I know this is more of a philosophical post than what you’re used to but I think it really comes down to ‘knowing’ versus ‘faith’ in everything we do. Having faith in people is a tremendous gift – but it’s a difficult one to foster given that people let us down so often. Only the greatest of leaders have had that type of faith.
Knowing is one of those terms that often contradicts itself and requires some hubris, doesn’t it? We say things like:
- “I know how you feel” – no, you really don’t.
- “I know what clients want” – we always find out different
- “We know that we’ve evolved” – but we can’t even cure the common cold
- “I know there is a God” – you have an undiminished faith that there is a God. Someday you will know, though!
On Friday I had drinks with a quite a few folks. We discussed all the things to avoid – including Politics and Religion. I was surprised to find that a few of my friends were Atheists. I really found that amazing. I think it takes great faith to be an Atheist and I look forward to speaking to them more about how they came to their decision and why. I definitely don’t look down on Atheists – since they are people, I believe I should treat them with as much respect and love as anyone else.
Our world likes to herd us into believers and non-believers with no tolerance nor respect in between. Knowing is black and white, faith is a little more forgiving and allows for things like respect, appreciation, and courage. As I do get older, my faith gets stronger. And with that faith is more patience for people that ‘know’.
I hope I can continue in my faith and become more accepting of others.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention the post that drove me to write more about this. Thanks Nathan!