Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Stone Cold Honesty

I read this article in USA Today and it got me thinking.

You can read the article for yourself and decide on Rolling Stone's motives for refusing to accept an ad for a new Bible translation aimed at younger people. Personally I don't think they're being honest, which is a dangerous course for a journalistic publication. To me the explanations, at least those offered in the USA Today story seem a bit watery but it's their magazine they have the right to turn down money, as I have the right not to give them mine.

I don't mind people making mistakes. I'd prefer they didn't, but since I make more than my share I sort of figure I'm getting the best end of the deal when it comes to forgiveness.

I must admit I need to learn to have more grace for folks who refuse to admit when they've erred.

It used to be something we expected from our children, part of the process of growing up.

"Not me!"
How many parents haven't heard that response upon discovering a broken family heirloom or a dent in their car door?

Now though it's really become part of our culture...a culture of denial. Worse yet, a culture where it's expected that people are too caught up in themselves to see the painfully obvious.

I had a co-worker once who deleted all of the audio files in the computer system we use for news. I know he did it because the files were there when I walked in the office door and he and I were the only people in the building. Ten minutes later the audio files weren't there. There was no power failure. No ghosts or demons slithered out of the ether. It was still only me and him in the building, and I hadn't touched the computers.

No other files disappeared, only the ones in the computer folder where he had been working. He denied erasing anything...repeatedly.

I won't go into specifics, but believe me there's no other way it could have happened. It had never happened before or since.

I was upset not only because I suddenly had no audio for a morning news block that was going to begin in two hours, and that he repeatedly lied to my face, but mostly because he obviously thought so little of my intelligence.

I didn't have time to debate the issue with him. I told him he was lying, that I knew it and that I could prove it if need be. He continued to deny it...to me...to my boss...to people I have worked side by side with for decades. Everyone he spoke to knew he was lying...except apparently him.

He left our radio station's employ a short time later.

Had that man - he was close to my age - been honest with me I could have worked with him, shown him how not to repeat the mistake and moved on. I might very well have covered for him, but he left me no choice. It still makes me sad thinking about it.

I remember when my stepson Joey was probably around 11 or 12 he got deeply embroiled in an exhaustive computer game and without asking permission began phoning a "hint line." He didn't realize that each call cost money and when the phone bill arrived his mother sent him out into the backyard where I was working - phone bill in hand - and told him he had to face me and confess what he had done.

I still remember how he trudged out with a hang dog look and tearfully admitted making the calls. He honestly thought he would only be charged one time, not for every call he made (and he made a bunch). He looked at me waiting to see my reaction already calculating in his head how long it would take to pay back the cost of the calls not to mention what type of torture I might inflict upon him.

I told him I was glad he was honest with me and not to worry about it anymore. I think he was surprised by my reaction. I don't recall if we even made him pay us back for the cost of the calls or gave him extra chores.

I remember he learned a lesson that day. I remember because I learned it too.

Maybe a lesson I need to be reminded of more often.

Grace...it's there for the taking...and the giving.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9