“You realize you’re a legend in this town, don’t you?”
I think I may have snorted. I didn’t mean to. The thirty-something rocker was paying me a compliment. And, he was dead serious.
“I mean it. Whenever anybody I know needs something for their guitar, they don’t say, I’m going to the music store; they say, I’m going to see Paul.”
I’m pretty sure I didn’t snort this time. Still, I stared at the young man with a dumb look on my face as I tried to think of something brilliant to say.
You know, it’s hard to say just the right thing when someone compliments you like that. I always look for ways to deflect the praise—usually mumbling something that sounds grateful while at the same time denying any special merit.
The man in front of me today wasn’t having it. He charged into the subject, laying out personal praise mixed with a story or two he had heard. He had evidence and was going to be heard.
I was kind, even though embarrassed, and let him talk for a few moments more. Then, I closed the conversation with a lame comment about big fishes in little ponds, and waved him out the front door cheerfully.
What a disaster!
Why is it so hard to tell the truth to people like that? I know the words to stop the flow of praise and compliments. Cold.
I should say them.
I said them yesterday. He forced me to. The guitar player—you know—the one who was wandering through the streets of New Orleans in one of my recent tales.
We had been bemoaning the habits of certain customers and also discussing the merits of certain practices in the business world. He is in management at a local retail business, so he understands the dynamic of customer relations, too.
Offhandedly, I suggested that he already knew the reason I treat my customers the way I do. I merely said it to prove a point and move on in the conversation to fun things. He wasn’t taking the bait.
“Why do you treat them the way you do?” The mischievous grin on his face had just enough stubborn around the edges that I knew I would have to give an answer.
I said the words—the same words I should have said today—and he just nodded his head and smiled.
It’s not my gig. God is the one I represent. I follow His Son. How could it be any different?
And yet, today I had the opportunity to say those same words and I stuttered and nodded.
I want to be remembered as a nice guy.
The thing is, I’m not a nice guy.
On my own, I gripe and I complain; I nag and I fuss; I insist on my way and I say nasty things about people behind their backs.
So what I really want is for people to believe the lie that I’m a nice guy. Because, on my own, that’s all it is. A lie.
But, I’m not on my own. I haven’t been for a long time.
The truth of the matter is, God works in me both to want what He wants and to do it. (Philippians 2:13)
He’s the Nice Guy.
The Apostle who was also known as The Rock, suggested to his readers that they always should be ready to give an answer for the faith living inside of them. (1 Peter 3:15)
You know, nice guys don’t steal.
And yet, I am a thief.
When I keep the glory that belongs to the One who lives within me, I steal from Him. When I lay claim to the brilliant planning it takes to run a successful business, I steal from the Giver of all good gifts.
Every single good thing comes from Him. (James 1:17)
Every single one.
He’s the Nice Guy. He’s the Gift-Giver—the Truth-Teller—the Master-Mind behind this outfit.
It’s not my gig.
My friend was right. I need to say the words. I intend to, again and again.
Tomorrow is another day. Another chance to do things right.
Grace is an astounding gift!
I might even introduce a few people to the real Nice Guy.
How hard can this be?
Every rascal is not a thief, but every thief is a rascal.
(Aristotle ~ Greek philosopher ~ 384 BC-322 BC)
…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
(Philippians 2:13-15 ~ ESV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.