Saturday, August 21, 2010

making choices

I've been reflecting on matters of choice, and find that I have a conflict. I've been paying closer attention to two things in my life recently. One is my Pampered Chef business. Barely making ends meet from one month to the next, there are too many things on our to do list that require funding that must come from a supplemental source: PC. Repairing the lawnmower in the middle of summer is high on our priority list. The cost? $400. We could no doubt purchase a push mower for less than this, but we have a John Deere riding mower, the gift to me from a friend when she moved to Phoenix and determined she would no longer need it. It has served me well for 11 years, and when I had roughly an acre to mow, it was a godsend. Living with cardiomyopathy, heat is a danger to Ken's health, requiring a weakened heart muscle to pump harder than normal. Exertion in heat is a risk. No push mowers for us. PC are us!

The other thing to which  I am being attentive is my desire to be more effective in giving voice to gospel values. I don't mean preaching religion. I don't mean preaching Jesus Christ. I mean living the life to which I believe Jesus called us: loving God and our neighbor, honoring every individual, forgiving those who, wittingly or otherwise, cause us hurt or harm, serving those less fortunate than ourselves, advocating justice... You know, human stuff.

Along comes an opportunity via facebook for me to build relationships with PC customers. PC advises against political or other statements that might offend or send customers running away from the service I provide, or worse, from our products and our company. Okay. I tend not to be political on facebook anyway, but occasionally a "page" that I "like" reflects a point of view for all to see. A minor risk, perhaps.

But what happens if, when I'm at a party and customers begin to talk disparagingly about a person or group in a way that I find abhorrent? Do I speak up (tactfully, of course!)? At work I am definitely representing the company. Do I maintain silence so as not to hang a perception on this company I love, in a way that I have been advised not to participate?

What about my values? What about my faith? What about my conviction that, as Edmund Burke is noted for saying: all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing? (Evil is a bit strong here, but the question remains, however we might dilute the power and impact of that word.)  It is easy to say that there are other ways to make money, and perhaps if I am feeling that the constraints of company policy compromise my values, then its time to find other work. Easier said than done, not to mention that I really love PC, and we really need the money.

I suspect that, should these two priorities collide, I will find a way to face and address the moment appropriately. I do, after all, believe that the Holy Spirit empowers us with wisdom at times of significance. More than a belief, this has also been my experience. Just the same, the potential for this dilemma to come to fruition gives me pause to consider my choices, to reflect on what matters, and to weigh my options.

I would be glad to hear what you think.

8 comments:

The Bug said...

That IS a dilemma. I know that my experience of the Episcopal church has been limited (and full of pretty radical social gospel folk), but I'm pretty sure that if I knew your "other" job was as a priest I would watch what I say until I knew where you stood on things. But that's introverted me.

I think that you will most likely find a way to say something in a way that doesn't condemn the other person - you can be so loving. But I don't really have any concrete advice to give you - sorry!

Jayne said...

Well, it's a sticky wicket for sure. Just today, I probably fully offended K's 80 something year old aunt as I've asked her nicely several times to STOP forwarding all the emails proving Obama is a Muslim and not a US citizen, etc, etc. She proceeded to send them anyway with a note saying, "I know you asked me not to send these, but... you need to KNOW this information"... blah, blah, blah. Yes, she's over 80, and yes, she fully thinks everyone, esp. in her family, feels as she does, but enough is enough. I truly wanted to fire off an angry email to her, but instead just again, nicely told her to cease and desist. She responded by saying she was going to delete our email address to "keep from accidentally sending some stuff" to us. Whatever.

So, to answer your question... I think you can be neutral in business situations, but what you put on your blog or your personal Fb page is YOUR prerogative in my mind. If someone does not want to purchase a cheese slicer because you champion social justice, oh, well...

Carolina Linthead said...

I agree with Jayne in that you cannot hide who you are, but I also hear you saying that there are months when every sale is important to your household income. Typically, I would encourage you to think about probability and "acceptable" risk. How probable is it that if you "like" this or say that, you will offend a customer, given your knowledge of past and present customers?

However, we don't seem to be living in "typical" times, as Jayne's allusion to "birther" emails, etc., indicates. Some of these people are just NUTS, and they have minions! How is a humble liberal priest by day, blogging, Fbing PC consultant by night to make her way?

In real life, the problem is even trickier. I stood in the yard the other day listening to a man rant and rave about how the Democrats are ruining the country, etc., etc. He was visiting a friend having a yard sale. What would I do if I were having a yard sale and he came over to my yard and started that rant or worse?

News article after news article warns of an increasingly polarized country. Your faith stance and politics actually COULD ruin your PC business in such a climate. In some cases gentle nudges might work: we're talking Pampered Chef, not politics tonight. But some people will not be blunted so easily. In those cases, the priest must bail out the Pampered Chef consultant.

You know that God loves us all, in spite of ourselves. You are the human face of that love, and I am confident that you will, through love, find a path. You may lose the occasional customer who cannot stand in the light of that love, but I must believe that allowing God's love to show through your words and actions, as a PC consultant and otherwise, must triumph over anger and hate.

Look, you are not using your position to convert, politic, etc., which is likely what the company means. What you are doing is modeling Christlike compassion and inclusiveness in the world, and IMHO you can do no other. Sadly, this does not guarantee a balanced budget, but it is who you are, with or without the collar. "To thine own self be true," Alter Ego :-D

Gabriele said...

Living in Zimbabwe where everything from cash notes to food to water or electricity are in short and erratic supply I have learned about the things we really need and that God supplies them. Here the lesson has been graphic because oftentimes there is nothing one can do to help oneself and I've been thrown onto the mercy and loving of the Father.

And He has supplied.

In minute detail. Like needing eggs because I had a vegetarian guest staying, when eggs were unobtainable. Lo I received eggs from three different sources. Abundance that I was then able to share with others.

Perhaps you can trust that if remaining true to Him costs you a sale then He will provide in other ways. Because He loves you. And formed you. And wants the best for you.

Here we have learned to help those He puts in front of us to the best of our ability, and to be helped by others. The helping is often easy, the accepting help so very hard.

Kip said...

You need the money, stay neutral when necessary. You are a very talented lady and know how to handle that!

Carolina Linthead said...

If I may follow very briefly...at the beginning of my comment, it sounds as if I'm refuting Jayne when I'm not. She's right...there are people who can find a way to be offended by the most casual or offhand remarks, let alone your deep convictions, and so you may lose the occasional sale, in which case you just have say "oh, well" and move on. Jayne is also the author of a blog that makes me smile almost every morning, for which I am most grateful

RevSis said...

Tough and tricky stuff...stuff we all face, especially if we wear the collar (though I am UM and not Episcopal - hence no collar). The thing is, at least from what I can tell, people don't want to hear what anyone can say to them. They are anxious and thirsty for a word of humble life, a word of insight, and yes condemnation on the world around them. If we are honest with ourselves we can admit that the world is not our friend. Speak/share with integrity to who you are.

I have made my share of folks upset...and I have to keep moving forward, speaking up for justice and peace, showing through my life and actions who I follow and why it matters....

Country Girl said...

Yes, evil does sound a strong word in these circumstances, and if something truly evil were happening, you really should speak up and do something.
I think neutrality would be prudent, especially at this time in your life.

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