When I was a classroom teacher, one of my favorite assignments was something I called a Directions Quiz. Basically, it was a twenty question quiz with random instructions like:
Clap your hands three times
Put seven Xs on the upper right corner of the page
Throw your pencil to the front of the room and retrieve it.
I would repeatedly emphasize to the students that this was an exercise to determine how well they could follow specific directions. Then I would proceed to remind them to read all of the instructions before proceeding. The catch was that after they read each of the numbered instructions, they would find that the last instruction told them to ONLY complete three of the twenty directions and sit quietly while all of the other students continued dutifully down the list.
The idea is that we often are so quick to leap, so eager to judge, that we don’t really take the time to know what exactly is going on. This became even more apparent to me when I saw an article from last year pop back up on social media this week. The article’s headline read: “Starbucks CEO to Shareholders: If You Support Biblical Marriage, Sell Your Shares”. Now while you may disagree with Howard Schultz’s stance on same-sex marriage, the fact is that he didn’t say anything of the sort.
As I read through the article, I found two distinctly different statements coming from Schultz. The first was that his support of same-sex marriage was not a decision based on the bottom line and that one of the priorities of his company was diversity:
“The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. “We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity — of all kinds.”
The second thing that Schultz said was in response to a shareholder who questioned the companies support of same-sex marriage because returns had dipped slightly during the controversy. Schultz replied to this by pointing out that shareholders had received a 38% return over the previous 12 months and welcomed any shareholders who thought they could do better than that to look elsewhere:
“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company.”
The suggestion to sell shares was not some sort of mandate or even a request. It was simply acknowledging that if the shareholder disagreed with the business practices of the company, he was free to move on.
The point here is not to debate the stance taken by Starbucks and its CEO. The real issue is that many Christians latched onto this headline and shared it flippantly without ever taking the time to find out what was actually said. It’s irresponsible. It’s counter productive. And it’s a bad look.
In a world experienced in 140 characters or less, we must be increasingly careful to communicate truth both online and in our personal conversations. I admittedly have fallen prey myself. I’m guilty of scrolling through my timeline and forming opinions based on a carefully crafted turn of phrase, but it is my responsibility to be diligent in seeing through this propaganda to what is real. Lies are the enemy. Truth is worth pursuing. So before you share the latest viral post, be sure to read to the end. You might just find it wasn’t what you thought after all.
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”