When does a blag become a lie?
We live in a world of blagging. We all do it. It’s the art of spin. It’s when truth is either stretched or omitted to create an impression that is no longer true! And it’s in epidemic proportions across our culture.
Yet, spin can be good! Elijah saw a cloud the size of a man’s hand – the smallest of clouds – and told everyone to prepare for rain! Spin is the alloying of today’s reality with tomorrow’s expectations, and for those living the faith life, spin is good. Just like clay on a potter’s wheel, things look a lot better when you spin and a lot worse when you don’t. That change of perspective, however, can get the wheel turning faster than it should and that’s when the spin of faith turns into the blag of deceit!
But at what point does a spin become a lie? For the fisherman, when describing the length of the fish they just caught, you can move from sheer enthusiasm to accidental deception. Do it often enough and it will just become a habit. A blag habit. And that’s what a lot of ‘faith’ churches have unintentionally created, including ours.
It includes both stretching the truth and omitting the truth.
Sometimes, the omission of truth is a part of EQ – Emotional Intelligence. To omit to say that a new born baby looks a little ugly when it may do is a good thing. To not mention the spot on the end if someone’s nose is right and proper. But to not mention something in order to shift the blame onto someone else is called lying. There’s a line, and we cross it often.
I get it though. Because we want to please and never disappoint, we want to appear competent, we want that promotion, we don’t want to hurt the feelings of others, and we want the pleasure of something that we know is wrong, we start to move across the boundary line between truth and error.
For a time it may work out for you, but when truth emerges, the thread of trust is pulled and it’s the thread that keeps the fabric of all your relationships together. You could ruin what you love through pulling the thread too much.
I’m going to list the 7 greatest lies we share in church life and how to avoid them:
- Saying you’ve done something when you haven’t – This can include your CV and your testimony, as well as those jobs you’ve been asked to do! It all comes from a want to please. And at some stage, this needs to be transferred from your boss, you wife, or you pastor and to your God. You’re accountable to Christ. Only when this transfer takes place does pleasing or displeasing people become a lower priority. Only then can truth rise to the surface easier and quicker resulting in greater trust and stronger bonds of relationship.
- Promising that you’ll do something when you have no real capacity to do it.
This comes from a ‘Walter Mitty’ culture that is full lots and lots of day dreaming! The remedy is to get some real friends that can yank you down to earth with the pull of personal responsibility. How can someone start three businesses in one go when they can’t even wash their bed sheets? Over-promising must stop! Life will be a bit more boring, but you’ll have more to show for it in the long run.
- Failing to admit a lie when asked.
If a culture is ungracious and full of falling hammers, truth will always get buried a little deeper. It’s important to know that truth has a habit of resurrecting itself, so the sooner than you confess, the better it will be in the long run.
- Saying something went great when it wasn’t so great. (It was awful!)
The more a culture is performance-based, the more failure is covered up. Faith actually doesn’t avoid reality, it confronts it with a higher one. Abraham considered his body to be as good as dead, yet believed. Failure isn’t fatal, but lying about it can be. Some churches are promoted as being much bigger than they really are. That’s a common deception that grows among an aggressively growth-oriented church culture. And it’s the same in the world. Spin is good, but too much is not
- Saying you’re going great when you’re on the brink of collapse.
Most people don’t drift off, they sheer off. They cover their struggle and then disappear to cover their losses. It’s a result of a massive ‘success’ culture. The answer is in real brotherhood and real sisterhood. Listening ears, gracious hearts and a forgiving, non-gossiping environment can work wonders for better trust and truth.
- Saying you’ll do something, but not saying you didn’t when you said you would. When you live outside of accountability, you rarely have to say anything to anyone. But you are accountable, so reporting back maintains the integrity of your original intention. No feedback destroys it.
- Saying all the right things for promotion.
Because everyone has a wobbly wheel, to cover it up too much creates a façade where nobody really knows you. And knowing someone is a part of both relationship and discipleship. Super-spirituality is fundamentally dishonest. Perfectionism is fundamentally dishonest. Being too good is fundamentally dishonest. If you stop trying to get promoted, your honesty might get you there.
The antidote to all of this is two-fold:
Firstly, to change, by allowing a new truthfulness and vulnerability to drive you into the non-judgemental love and Lordship of Jesus; and secondly, to apologise.
One day, my City Pastor called me at around 9:30am, when I’d actually just got out of bed. It was a work day and the office was busy with the hum of admin, pastoring and planning. She asked me what I was doing, and I told her that I’d been praying. I didn’t want her to know I’d been sleeping. It felt like skiving and looked like it too. After I put the phone down, I felt bad but thought I could ride it out. After a few hours, I text her back to apologise for lying. I told her the truth, she laughed it off and I felt better. She secretly tucked it into her Pocket of Trust. It was between the two of us, yet we helped build community that day. That day, we helped change the world by changing our worlds. You can to. Beat the blag and you’ll feel fab. We all will! And we’ll all win back something so important in our world – trust. And trust is not just something, it’s everything!