In a recent article in the Atlantic, The Hypocrisy of Professional Ethicists, Emma Green compiled years of data mined from studies done on the ethical implications of various professions. She sought to discover if people who, at least in part, give advice for a living were practicing what they preached.
Some of the conclusions were what one might expect in a study like this.
- One study of 500 doctors found 38% to be overweight. The national average is only 33%, although doctors rate of obesity is lower than the national average.
- Nearly 4,000 police officers in Florida were surveyed and almost 800 of them had been found to be driving 90-130 mph on toll roads, many while off duty.
- According to a security company’s study, most of the shoplifting that occurs in the retail stores is committed by employees, not shoppers.
Yet the main point of the article was fascinating. It discovered that ethicists, people who think, write, and teach what is right and wrong for a living are noticeably less ethical than both the general population as well as other non-ethics professors. Not only that, but on many occasions their behavior directly contradicted their stated beliefs.
- 60% of ethicists surveyed said they found eating red meat to be morally wrong, yet only 27% do not regularly eat it.
- Ethicists are not more likely to vote donate blood, or register as organ donors.
- Books on ethics checked out of the library are more than 50% likely to be permanently missing as compared to other books.
But if you’re reading this, you are most likely not an ethicist. Frankly, I do not know any that I like.
So what about the rest of us?
What if the way we live our lives and make our daily decisions was analyzed? Would we be hypocrites or legit?
As a Christ-follower, I have a firm commitment to be as honest and open as possible. We, more than anyone, have nothing to hide because our failures, weaknesses, and shortcomings only make the God we serve look that much more glorious for loving us. See: Fake or Real?
I wonder…what would the statistics look like if we compared the lives of Christians to the lives of non-Christians? Could you tell a difference? Would there be a difference in your life? In mine?
Two arenas jumped into my mind where Christians can be legit and really make a difference.
Christians need to be legit in our marriages.
Our church wrapped up a series on marriages a few months ago and in one of our home group sessions, one of my friends said, “I’m not sure there’s a more consistent testimony to the faithfulness of God than a committed, loving marriage.”
She is absolutely right. While you in no way need to be married to bear witness to God’s faithfulness, marriage is a nearly universal experience in our culture, regardless of your particular belief system.
But marriage can be tough, and I think sometimes Christians tragically forget that they married an imperfect person. Much more often, they forget that they themselves are imperfect.
When two selfish sinners (all of us) are able to selflessly give themselves to one another in the covenant (not contract) of marriage, and stick with it for six or seven decades, people will ask, “How do you do it? What’s the secret?” They can answer simply that they spent their lives giving one another the love that God so richly gave to them through Jesus.
Christians need to be legit in the workplace.
One of my favorite articles ever written is entitled, “Today’s Lazy Youth Pastor.” In it, Jonathan McKee laments the state of many youth workers he comes into contact with, thinking they’re overloaded with work, stretched too thin, or burned out. While that is definitely true for some, it happens much more in other staff positions.
I wonder if that article could be written about you at your job. Today’s Lazy ________.
Christians send a loud message of the faithfulness of God when they work harder than their co-workers. When asked what gives them such drive and ambition, they can respond simply with Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I love those verses because while they include pastors, that is not the primary audience…“WHATEVER you do.”
- If you’re a school teacher, when you work hard you’re serving the Lord.
- If you’re a CEO, when you work hard you’re serving the Lord.
- If you’re a plumber, when you work hard you’re serving the Lord.
- If you’re a stay-at-home Mom, when you work hard, you’re serving the Lord.
- If you’re a used-car salesman, or a lawyer, when you work hard you might be serving the Lord. 🙂
When Christians are lazy at work, we fail to be honest. We become hypocrites who make Jesus look like a fake if we are constantly give half-effort.
“If you show up on time, WORK while you are at WORK, and smile you will be noticed. Most people don’t even do that.” – Dave Ramsey