As a pastor, I have sometimes run across posers in my ministry. By posers, I mean people who are posing as someone they are not. Posers don’t reveal their true selves by intent.
Once, I was teaching Sunday school when one of the men of our church interrupted me and told me that there was a visitor who desperately needed to speak with me. I asked someone else to take over the lesson and went to visit with him.
We went to my office and I discovered that this man had a brother who had died rather suddenly in St. Louis. He was leaving behind a wife and little boy. This man needed airfare to get to St. Louis that afternoon to help his family cope. The little boy especially would need his uncle during this awful time.
I felt terrible for this man’s situation but I also felt like his story wasn’t quite adding up. I got some details from the man and told him that I would need to see his driver’s license so that I could put his identification on the check. Strangely enough, he didn’t have it on him but told me that he would return shortly with it.
After he left, I called the airlines to verify the flight time and price. There was no flight at the time he gave me. I also called the funeral home to check on his brother. They had no man listed by the name he gave me.
The man never returned to our church. He was obviously running a scam, coming during Sunday morning hours, hoping that the pastor would be so busy that he would just write him a check or better yet, give him cash.
This kind of behavior can make a person suspicious. It makes it difficult to take people at their word. However, it also shouldn’t keep me from treating people with dignity and respect if they have a need. I should follow my due diligence as I did but I should also continue to help where I can.
As I reflect upon this story, I recognize that all people have a public self and a private self. Sometimes the two line up and sometimes they don’t. We all have our own “make up” that we put on in some way or another. Sometimes this is because our inner feelings betray a doubt or a callousness that we wouldn’t want others to see.
So if we are really honest with ourselves, all of us are posers once in a while.
This Sunday, we’ll be continuing with the Sermon on the Mount with Matthew 6:1-18. This passage includes the Lord’s Prayer and instructs us to have integrity with our piety. If we are pious so that others may praise us, it may be that we are no different than the con artist seeking to cheat the church.
This is a subject that we all need to examine once in a while. Even good intentions can get lost in the shuffle. Keeping our own intentions in line is something that takes work and discipline. I know those two words are not popular with an over-worked and under-disciplined society but they are more likely to give us peace than continuing to fake it.
To read more from Sam, visit http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by Victoria Pickering via Flickr.com, used under the Creative Commons license.