“Your usual, hon’?”
That’s all of the communication needed.
Roland, a Presbyterian layman and early-bird regular at my favorite coffee shop, stopped by my round-top table recently after picking up his “usual” cinnamon-crunch bagel and coffee.
“How much ethics have you studied?” he asked with unusual seriousness.
“More than I’ve used,” was my response.
He smiled and replied. “That’s true of all of us, I guess.”
Instead of dealing with whatever topic had led to his question, we chatted for awhile about the overall difficulty in matching what we claim to believe with how we actually live.
In my old campus ministry days, I would ask students to list in order the top five priorities/values in their lives.
“God, family, friends, church, etc.” flowed out readily onto paper.
Then I asked them to chart out how they had spent their time and money over the last 48 hours. These true indicators of priorities/values rarely met the stated ones.
It was revealing — and at times embarrassing — to see the results. Like when more time and money was spent on Pac-Man than anything on the so-called priority list.
But the failure to match behavior with stated belief does not rest with the few. It is the challenge for all of us.