Monday, August 31, 2009

The Burden of a Grudge

I received a call awhile back inviting the church to participate in a campaign for a local radio station. The man who called was very professional, albeit a little pushy, and very well-informed about St. Paul’s. He gave his marketing plan and I listened to the entire pitch. Once he outlined the pricing program, I explained that this church is very small and operates on a very limited budget. I politely declined his offer. After my third decline, he yelled some final remark and slammed down his receiver.

I confess that the phone conversation and especially how it ended made me mad. I confess that it made me so mad I wanted to let somebody know just how mad I was. I flipped through the yellow pages, found the number for the radio station he represented, picked up the phone to dial the number, and then stopped. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I am a new pastor in the community and that perhaps I needed to refrain from making the call. Perhaps, I thought, it would be best for the church and for my reputation if I just ignored the conversation. I did, however, decide that I would forever hold a grudge against this radio station and would always wait for the day when I would be able to let them know just how rude I thought their employee was to me.

And then, I thought about that. I realized forever is a long time to hold a grudge and that maybe that was actually a worse reaction than just making the call. At least, I thought, if I call and lodge my complaint, I’ll be better able to just let it go. So, that’s what I did. I called the radio station, asked to speak to speak to someone in management, and was immediately connected to the assistant manager. I explained what had happened and that I felt angry to have been treated in this manner and that I thought the radio station supervisors might like to know how I experienced their marketing endeavor.

There was a pause and then finally, this reply. “Ma’am,” the young woman said, “we’re not participating in that kind of marketing endeavor. I don’t know who called you; but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a person on our staff.”

It turns out it was a scam. It was some professional con artist trying to get money from churches. The man did not represent the radio station. The managers knew nothing about this phone call or this campaign targeting local churches.

Of course, I am very glad I made the call, and not because I learned new information about scams and the need for caution in talking finances with strangers on the phone. I’m glad I made the call to the radio station because I learned the lesson once again that sometimes the things we hear are not always the things we need to believe. Holding a grudge is a very serious decision to make and usually not the best one. Forever, after all, is a very long time and an unfounded grudge is nothing but dead weight. Perhaps, like a phone call that’s a scam, it’s best not to pick it up in the first place.

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