Here’s how it goes. I’m going to hold a few minutes then the automated robotic voice is going to ask me to type in my account number. It will repeat the number then if correct, I will press 1. Next, I will type in my security code. It will repeat that, again if correct, I will press 1. So it goes with my phone number. Each step seemingly getting closer to an answer to my call.
Yet when I finally reach a representative, the very first thing he or she will ask for is my account number, my security number, and my phone number. I have considered not giving it to them. I just spent the last five minutes typing all those numbers in. Shouldn’t they know it! However, my refusal would be futile. The only result typing those numbers produced was the melody of staccato beeps on my phone intended to bring about a perceived bit of satisfaction, making me feel a little less on hold and a little closer to my turn.
My problem is my degree is in Public Relations. I’ve been trained on too many of their techniques. And the harmless activity meant to occupy their waiting customers just frustrates me.
I really shouldn’t be so quick to point the finger. Sometimes I employ another popular technique called framing (influencing how someone will process a message by the way the information is presented.) I’m not saying it’s always right, but I will tell you that I’m pretty good at it. This weekend my mom, my sister and I enjoyed our annual Christmas shopping girls’ trip. We visited a market where the sights, sounds and smells of all things Christmas thrilled my every sense. Early in the day I spotted a rod-ironed Christmas tree detailed with a dozen dainty tea lights and sparkling ropes of silver beads. I loved everything about it, so much so that I purchased what I considered to be a bit of a splurge and hauled my new festive treasure home.
Even though it’s a week before Thanksgiving, I couldn’t wait to display it. I arranged the tablecloth just right, centered the tree perfectly on the table and called my husband in the room to join me in admiring my new purchase.
“Look at this gorgeous tree I found. Isn’t it the most beautiful thing! When I went back to the store to buy it, it was the last one left, like it was meant to be. Feel it. It’s so heavy and well built. And would you believe that the kind attendant in the parking lot let my mom drive right to the front so I wouldn’t have to struggle to the car with it. I can’t wait to light the candles and have a family dinner!”
He smiled. I’m not sure he loved the tree as much as I did, but he was happy that I was happy.
Yet, can you imagine how differently our conversation might have gone had my show and tell been something like this…
“Look at what I bought. It cost $XXX. It’s heavy, too. So heavy I almost tripped stepping down the curb, which would have broken all these little tea lights just minutes after I paid for them. Luckily, a parking attendant gave my mom permission to pull up close, mainly because we also paid quite a bit extra to park in the lot right next to the market.”
Both messages are 100% accurate, but had the second been my choice of delivery, I may have been sleeping on the couch that night!
We are so blessed to have access to so much information in our time. Anything I want to know is just a Google search away. Before my feet hit the ground, my news app can update me on things around the world that transpired while I slept. But not every message is without bias. In fact, few are. It’s not some conspiracy to corrupt society. It’s just how we are wired…to share what we want others to know.
And with the insurgence of information, public opinion seems to be an unconquerable force. Its wave can drown decades of integrity with one article, post or tweet. And before we know it, Christ-followers are crying treason against brothers and sisters.
Some of these outcries may be for very good reason. The Bible is clear about the ravenous work of false prophets in sheep’s clothing.
However, when you see another Christ-follower who after years of faithful service, seems to have embarrassed the faith, use it as a conversation to teach your children, discuss it in your small group, debate it with your best friend, if possible, talk to the person. But before you publically take up your sword, please be sure you are drawing that weapon against your enemy, not your brother because the real enemy would like nothing more than to watch brothers and sisters sacrifice each other over the fire of half-truths and assumptions.