Speaking Well of Others

Ed, my neighbor next door, tells me repeatedly that the greeter position at Walmart stores has to be one of the dumbest jobs ever created. His exact words are, “No one wants someone eyeballing you as you come in the store. People come in to shop – not to say hello to someone they don’t even know. If it was the manager of the whole store standing there, people would be interested, as then they could say they knew the person in charge. People want to know the boss, not somebody who has no authority but to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ like a butler.”

My answer never satisfies Ed, but it is the truth. I have told Ed that the manager has us say hello for him, as he cannot be everywhere, doing everything. He relies on his staff to be in charge of serving the customers such as by welcoming people on his behalf. It is important to welcome and to extend a thank you to everyone for shopping at our store, because there are plenty of other stores to shop at and we are blessed by the business that our customers give us.

I try not to disturb Ed when he comes in the store, but a smile, a nod of the head, and a wave goodbye still make him irritated. Ed has told others that I’m too old to do anything but stand around and talk. Then he adds, “But then again, that is all ministers do, so he is used to it.”

It is so easy to comment in a negative way about the work of others. Often, our gossip isn’t exactly personal – it is a generalized belief. For example, when I was a teacher, my brothers who were farmers were sure it was an easy job that any woman could do. It was not a job suitable for a man. In our farming family, the generalized belief was that there was no real work except farming.

God commands us in the Bible not to give false testimony against our neighbors. The foundation of this command is our need to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is hard for us to strive to speak the whole truth, for half truths have a way of easily satisfying us. What we say is often more about us and our beliefs than the person we are talking about. It is hard work to be fair, impartial and honor the reputation of others. It is easy to ruin others without the whole truth. Will we put the best meaning on everything – explain our neighbor’s actions in the best possible way? Love does no harm to its neighbor.

 

What I think about a job may change if I actually do the job. Many jobs seem easy enough until you do them. It isn’t enough to say what I think or feel about a job or another person. I may not have the whole truth or I may just be very misguided. It is hard to admit I haven’t always known what I was talking about, but it has happened more than once. We are not God and do not know the whole truth about others or their jobs. Perhaps we should try to only speak well of others or refrain from speaking about them at all.

 

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Raymond Maher
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