Feet of Clay

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    Never put anyone on a pedestal, no matter how much you admire him/her. Because we’re all grossly imperfect, naturally flawed. We will disappoint each other, sooner or later. That’s lesson #1 in Relationships 101.

    Why, we even get disappointed with God — Who’s perfect! The fault is NOT in Him but in our imperfect understanding of Who He is. Our limited perception of Him.

    I learned quite early in my Christian life that only God deserves to be completely trusted and worshiped. Because He’s the only One Who’s perfect, flawless, completely good.

    When God seems wrong or unfair, I’m the one who’s wrong and has a skewed view of fairness. Because God is perfect. I’m not. That knowledge ultimately ends the futile debates between me and God.

    Remember the admirable patience He showed Job who launched into a tirade against Him? That’s the kind of patience we can count on, too, when we question God’s answers to our prayers. But we just have to be respectful about it — unless we  want end up even more miserable.

    I suppose you’ve idolized someone, some time in your life. Or put your trust, invested your life in someone. Most of us have. A parent, perhaps, who continued to exceed our childhood expectations. A teacher who not only looked gorgeous but was brilliant as well. A friend who gave more than what we asked for. A coach who managed to pry out the best in us. A leader who wasn’t afraid to make us shine. A boss who was generous — not only with praise but also with perks. A forever-crush who had bottomless charm and wit. A preacher whose scintillating insights left us awed, mesmerized.

    The list goes on. We are designed to worship — or at least admire
    — someone or something, after all. But woe unto us if we admire something or someone who’ll eventually disappoint. Or who was fatally flawed to begin with, but we just refused to see it.

    I’m amazed at how some of the most intelligent people I know refuse to see the red flags in someone just because they hopelessly and haplessly admire him/her.

    In highschool, there was this thing we called a “Good Guy Radar”. A built-in mechanism that discerns whether a guy was the genuine article or a big fat fake. This often spelled the difference between having a gem of a boyfriend or a pebble in one’s shoe — until you shook that pebble out of your shoe, you were going to be in constant agony every day of your life.

    Do you have a good guy/girl radar? Is it working? Or are you basically naive, with a tendency to cave in when flattered? Are you easily manipulated by people who are charming, or have the “right packaging”?

    The world is crawling with dubious people who are out to con us with flattery, gifts, the gift of gab, charm, good looks, connections, an impressive resumé, a fabricated track record, etc.

    A word of caution. Please don’t ever, ever confuse them with people who are good, decent, and honest. Many good, decent, extremely gifted people don’t resort to flattery or turn on the charm just to get what they want. If we fail to remember this, we will suffer some pretty tragic consequences.

    After being burned once, one of the fail-safe standards I now look into is a person’s track record. Due diligence is a must, of course. I do a background check — Is she really who she claims to be? How’s his integrity? Dependability? Work ethic? How does she handle money? What about her  spending habits — does she spend within her income or is just showing off? Is he  perpetually in debt? What kind of job does she have? What kind of business is he in? This goes for friendships as well as work relationships.

    I remember a huge blunder that a friend once made. She chose an applicant who was oozing with charm and had the gift of gab (a smooth operator, that’s what I call this type) over someone who was not as charming, not good at flattery, but was high on integrity, a hard worker, willing to take risks, and moved fast. My friend said that the charming one was very organized, a good planner, more mature in his ways. I strongly disagreed but I wasn’t in a position to make a recommendation.

    All I asked was this, “How’s this (charming) guy’s track record?” I knew he didn’t have a good one. But my friend was totally disarmed by his charm. A year went by. Our charmer was failing horribly. He could “plan well” but couldn’t implement at all. That’s what I expected all along because that’s what his track record said. So eventually, my friend had to eat her words. She had to get the second applicant back and ask him to take over the charmer’s position — which he did. And the second applicant (who was initially rejected) is doing very well, so many years hence.

    It’s true, in a way — charm and a glib tongue can get you anywhere. But the question is: how long before you’re found out? In the office where I used to work, once a person was found out to be a non-performer, we quickly gave him/her a graceful exit — for their own good. Maybe they’d be more useful elsewhere.

    Integrity. Competence. A good attitude. Those are pillars of strength in any relationship. If we compromise on any of these, then we should expect to walk on clay feet ourselves.

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