So there is a story I tell quite often (and that is told about me) at work describing one of the earliest lessons I learned in my professional career. Figured I would share it with you today.
I was an intern working in Miami for the professional golf tournament being held at Doral. Our offices were located on-site at the course, which I loved because as you should know by now, I play as much golf as I can fit into my schedule. One week, leading up to the tournament, we had a large group of our biggest sponsors come into town to look around the golf course and get an update on progress. As a result, there were executives from the PGA TOUR also there to make sure everything went smooth. It was a Friday morning before I was planning to go on a road-trip that weekend. Since I played the majority of my golf at the course where our office was, I had the golf course staff store my golf bag in their facility. Well, I knew I was going to need my clubs for my road trip so I decided to take my lunch break to get them out of storage and put them into my car so I could leave right after work. I took the golf cart that we used for work, and drove it over to pick up my clubs. I gathered them, thanked the staff, strapped them on the back and headed back to my car. The route back took me right past the 18th Green…where the entire group of sponsors, executives and staff (including my boss) were standing and talking! I waved politely not thinking anything of the situation and continued. About 5 minutes later I got a phone call from my boss asking me where I was. By then I had already gotten back to the office so thats what I said, “I’m at my desk.” There was disbelief in my bosses voice as he asked, “you’re sure you aren’t on the golf course?” Then it hit me…all they saw when I drove by earlier was me (a person who loves to play golf) driving near the golf course, on a golf cart, in a golf shirt with my golf clubs on the back. As far as they were concerned, the intern had taken the opportunity of everyone being out of the office to play a little golf!
After I convinced them I was in the office, the day went on. Later in the afternoon I was called into my bosses office, where he gave me some advice I have not forgotten to this day. First of all he allowed me to explain myself and ultimately he believed me. But the advice he gave was this…
“It doesn’t matter about the actual truth. What matters is the perception of the truth.”
In other words, regardless of what I was actually doing, people believed I was doing something else, and unless I am able to explain it to all of them, they will always believe they caught that intern red handed playing golf during work.
A bible verse came up this past week that immediately reminded me of this story. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 in the KJV. “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I love that Paul didn’t say simply to stay away from evil. While this is important he understood that humans are quick to make assumptions and believe everything they “think they see.”
So what Paul is telling the church in Thessalonica is simply to stay away from evil or from places where evil exists or could exist. There is no reason that you need to be close to anything that could cause evil or even give the appearance of evil.
Just think about things before you do them and ask yourself the question, what perception could be made of what I am doing? Always act and make sure you can answer this question in a way that glorifies God.