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Cut some slack

David Epps's picture

Recently, on a flight home from Illinois, I sat next to a man who was an executive in a corporation. The man was pleasant, chatted with passengers who were finding their seats, and seemed genuinely interested in every person boarding the airplane. There were a couple of people who were unresponsive to his smile and greetings but he didn’t seem disturbed by that one bit.

On the flight, he shared that, on a previous flight, he began speaking to a couple sitting in the seats behind him and asked the man if he was going to Texas for business or pleasure. “He responded,” my new friend said, “in a way that made it clear that he felt it was none of my business.”

“How did you take that?” I asked.

“Well, he looked as if he were bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders so I decided that I would choose not to be offended.”

He continued, “When the man went to the restroom, his wife apologized for her husband’s behavior and told me the reason for his rudeness and short answer. It turned out that the man’s sister had been murdered years before and he was traveling to Texas to witness the execution of her killer. No wonder he didn’t feel like talking.”

My companion could have taken offense and responded to the rudeness in kind, creating a tense situation on the flight, but he didn’t. He assumed the best about the man and gave him the benefit of the doubt. Many, in a similar situation, would not have done so.

I have discovered that a great many people are quietly carrying their own private burdens. Many of those we encounter are dealing with stressful, difficult, sometimes desperate, situations. One man may be seeing the demise of his business and worrying what will happen to his employees and to his ability to care for his family.

Another person may be living with an unexpected diagnosis of a serious disease. A person in his or her 50s or 60s may have a bevy of worries: about the parent suffering from dementia, about the retirement account that has taken a terrible hit or a pension plan that may soon disappear, or about the impending divorce of a son or daughter.

Others live daily with the reality of caring and providing for a child who is handicapped, or a spouse that is mentally ill, or a grandchild slipping into the abyss of addiction. Certainly, there are scores of people we encounter each day who are terrified at the prospect of losing their jobs or their homes.

Awaiting a flight several months earlier, I met and spoke with a middle-aged woman in the terminal who had lost her job and her home. With her remaining money, she had purchased a one-way ticket back to her hometown and was hoping that, somehow, things would get better. She was fearful, sad, and depressed.

Once on board, lost in her thoughts, she mistakenly sat in the wrong seat. The woman who had been assigned the seat she occupied, rather than gently saying that she was in the wrong seat, exploded in rage. She yelled at the hapless woman and shouted, “I want the seat I paid for!”

Already beaten down by life, the embarrassed and humiliated lady meekly left the seat and tearfully located her assigned seat. Why, I wondered, do people act rudely and behave like barbarians when there is no need to do so?

Yet, such behavior increasingly seems to be the norm. Why not, instead, give people the benefit of the doubt, assume the best about them, treat them with respect, and cut them some slack? It seems to me to be the kind — and the civilized — thing to do.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec,org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]


PTC Observer's picture

Well said, well said indeed.

This is a lesson we can all learn.

Well written.
Thank you

Has an institution awarded a legitimate Ph.D to Mr. Epps?

There are numerous ones in Atlanta, granted by friends, for such titles as Saints, Apostles, Bishop, Priestess, Most Reverend, Sister, Brother (not related), Deacon, etc.

The best thing I remember in my childhood about neighbors telling that "the preacher," was coming for Sunday dinner (late lunch) was that he got the best piece of fried chicken!
It seems there wasn't but one best piece! Pie was also a necessity!

He usually was "voted" out pretty quickly anyway due to his sermons on "money," and got "called" to another place in another county.

Funny thing, they always gave the preacher and old run-down shack in which to live, and a run-down church building!

Hopefully that won't happen to Mr. Epps.

ctkcec's picture

for your concern roundabout. I appreciate your kind thoughtfulness. I own my own home and my wife will not let me turn it into a shack.I have preached on money twice in he last 14 1/2 years so no problem there. The church building is less than 10 years old and in fine condition as is the newer fellowship hall. When I go out to eat with people I almost always pick up the tab (almost never eat the fried chicken except at fellowship meals and KFC) and I have never been fired from a church in nearly 40 years. I do not have a PhD. I have a couple of Diplomas, a BSW, an MA, and a DMin, all earned (My wife has the PhD), although I do have an honorary doctorate from Great Plains Baptist Seminary in South Dakota for decades of evangelistic work with youth and martial arts back in the day. I do not have that one on my wall. I do have a Certificate in Advanced Pastoral Leadership from an Episcopal seminary and a few other earned things as well. Still, nice to know you are thinking about my welfare.I hope you are doing well, too.

David Epps

David Epps

....don't like to use religion mixed with government or columns!

I don't recall one preacher of my youth whose wife had a Ph.D or actually worked for money! It would have been frowned upon!

Actually, ranting and raving within the church was the real important issue---never education or even good English! They appealed to a certain heritage of course with that type of preaching.

We do put too much emphasis on the paperwork a person carries and not enough on the individual. It may be one of our failures putting us into our current situations!

Good luck with obtaining your "legitimate" Ph.D if that is your goal.

Mike King's picture

Most of us go to church for worship, not as amateur herpetologists.

ctkcec's picture

I don't do much ranting and raving in the church. I usually save that for here. :)
My only goals these days is to be the best pastor I can be and, hopefully, a fairly decent human being. I appreciate your reading and commenting, even if we don not always have the same perspectives on things.

David Epps

carbonunit52's picture

Add this one to the collection. You have been on a roll lately.

NUK_1's picture

Good stuff and those thoughts can't be stated enough. I have to remind myself of this kind of wisdom more than I'd like to admit.

...you're right, everyone is fighting something. Great article. When you get a moment, watch this video. A friend shared it with me recently and it is amazing. Have a great weekend!


Busy Bee's picture

Great video Mainstream. Reminds me of an incident that happened to me a while back when a woman approached me in the Kroger parking lot and yelled at me for not using my turn signal in the parking lot. I was pretty upset at how nasty this complete stranger was, until it occurred to me that maybe she was suffering from some real problem, like a death in her family, or a cancer diagnosis, etc that caused her to over-react to my minor transgression. It helps to try to look at the people around us as humans. And thanks Dr. Epps for a great column.

I can just about hear some of these gun totin dudes sayin whut they wood do in such cases!

They wooden giv a hoot about someones problems if they had jist bin insult by sumone lak thet! Fingers wood fly up, guns wood be waved, and loud noises frum thar muflers wood expound on the road long with squealin tars.

They might evin bump bumpers wif them.

I see lots uf this on tv round them nastycar traks.

BHH's picture

Please repeat this often and as far and wide as possible.


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