Seth Godin wants leaders to ask, “Who Is Us?”
When our neighbors are asked who Us is, they will have an answer, and it may not be one that we like. But if we’re not backing up who we say We are with consistent actions, then we have no right to object.
Which is why complaints like this don’t hold a lot of water with me. If the things you’re doing lead people to describe you in ways that diverge from how you describe yourself, your self-description doesn’t get priority just because it’s yours. If people observe you to be mean and exclusive, you’re probably mean and exclusive.
Of course, we may like it too, the Us our neighbors say we are.
There’s a community of mostly agnostic ex-patriots in Baja, Mexico who call the Presbyterian Church (USA) “innovative” and “courageous” because a presbytery ordained one of these ex-pats as an “Evangelist” to their community, to grow in friendship with them and discern a common life together.
Us is that. Even if we don’t know it.
While serving my first church I met a man 20 years my senior who spoke to me with tears in his eyes about the cherished role our church had played in his family’s life. Were they church members? No. The children had attended our preschool 15 years earlier. Yet though they never attended a single worship service or church event, he knew who We were years after his kids were grown.
Us was that, though we didn’t know it.
The world knows who We are, even if we don’t.