A Clown in a Collar
By Bernadette A. Moyer
Have you ever met a professional and really questioned them, “How is it that they believe they belong there, there in “that” profession?” As a young Realtor in my mid-20’s I had this view that professional Realtors should have a certain look and style. I thought they should look and present themselves like what a banker would look and act like. It wasn’t until I met many types of real estate agents that my thinking changed. I met agents that knew farms and horses and they dressed accordingly. Other Realtors who did the beach properties and had a much more relaxed look about themselves, most agents dressed for the type places they best represented. It didn’t take me long to change my thinking, Realtors had different styles and different looks often associated with their area of expertise and with the type of people they worked with.
My first GYN was far too slick for my taste. One day he made arrangements for his airplane flight times while performing my exam? I was young and so new in my pregnancy and I knew then and there that if I wasn’t the priority during this personal experience of a gynecological exam, this certainly wasn’t the doctor for me! It was so unprofessional.
We have expectations of what constitutes a professional; sometimes it is our idea of how they should dress, and how they should behave and how they should treat their customers and their clients. A friend is an undertaker and they own a premiere funeral home in my area. They are very successful and it is their professionalism, their caring spirit, how they service what they sell that contributes to their success. They are a family owned and operated business and they know how to treat people and they know their business and they know it well.
What would you expect from a Catholic Priest? Would you expect a Catholic Priest to hold themselves up as an example or would you expect them to spew hatred against others and act as though they are better than most? Most Priests are really good people and they do their best and know their own limitations. Most are in it for all the right reasons. One Priest shared with me that he told married couples he wasn’t comfortable counseling them since he had never been married. So he would refer them to a professional that was trained in marital counseling. You have to respect a guy like that.
I knew a Priest who held a fairly high and respected position. The problem was that behind the collar, he was the least Christian man I ever met. I heard him make numerous negative comments about so many others, he didn’t like the way a fellow Priest dressed for an event so he told me, “He must come from a bad family.” The problem for me, I knew the Priest he was speaking about and I knew his family quite well. They were all really good people! Then I heard him talk about another Priest that he shared a residence with, he made negative comments about the way he chewed his food! The guy he was talking about is so beloved in our community. He spoke negatively about female politicians, strong career women and a variety of groups of people. Yet when you heard him at the altar, he was quite impressive as a preacher with the “word of God.” More and more I listened to his nasty comments about so many good people; I began to refer to him as a “clown in a collar.”
When I was younger, I may have been wrong about how a Realtor should look, but I will never believe that a “man of the cloth” a person who holds themselves out there as doing “God’s work” should spew so much hatred and make such harsh judgments and nasty comments about so many others. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, this guy was so far from perfect and yet he had so much to say about so many good and decent people. I wanted to have respect for him and yet his words and his actions made it impossible.
When professionals act in ways that don’t line up with what they are selling, it is so hard to take them seriously and even harder to have any respect for them. People will judge us, the way we look, the way we handle ourselves, our knowledge, and other experiences all add up to what we think about people and what we discern about them.
If you can’t love and respect all people, you probably should not be working as though you are “doing God’s work.” When I had the experience of working at a special needs school, my then supervisor wasn’t particularly religious or at least not that I knew of, yet he saw the good in all people. He didn’t judge the poor, the challenged, the handicap; he didn’t judge those in an alternative lifestyle. He always saw their gifts and their talents and lifted them up. This guy was doing God’s work!
When we preach that we will treat all people with dignity, even those that don’t share our views we must be willing to do that at all times; when we assume a leadership role and we know that everyone is watching us and how we personally treat others we have to line our own actions up with the actions in what we preach.
And when we don’t line our actions up with what we preach, we can’t wonder why we may be referred to as a “clown in a collar!”