What would you do if you were God for a day?
I was recently asked that question and, of course, my immediate answer was that I’d make sure every tummy in the world had plenty of food to eat today.
Then out of nowhere, I spurted, “I’d hire a new marketing firm. God needs re-branding.”
Years ago, I chose a career of a professional photographer. I called on the most revered photographer in Kansas and asked for a meeting. I asked him what I needed to be successful and he said, “It’s like a tripod: you need three things: marketing, marketing, marketing. I know great photographers who can’t sell a thing. And I know mediocre photographers who are making a great living because they know how to market.”
People in marketing talk a lot about branding and messaging. Tyler Norris describes branding as, “knowability, likeability, and trustability.” A brand is far more than a logo; it is a hundred little things from the clothes you wear, the language you use, the way you treat employees, the way you treat customers, to the way you construct a product.
Messaging is about how you communicate values and things you want people to hear. Like the Mom who saw her children huddled around the baby skunks and yelled, “Run!” Each kid picked up a skunk and ran. What she wanted them to hear and what they heard were two different things.
I’ve spent much of my life listening to and reading a variety of preachers, pundits, poets, and philosophers talk about whether God exists or not. Some paint a picture of an angry, vengeful God who really enjoys zapping people with lightning bolts and large amounts of guilt. Others create a brand of God that is actually lovable. History gives example of people of all religions claiming God is on their side and therefore hates the things they hate. As one man said, “We know we’ve created God in our image when he hates the same things we hate.”
I really do think that if there was one question I could ask God face-to-face (after the “why is there suffering” question), it would be, “Why don’t you hire a new marketing department and clear up the mixed messaging going on down here on earth. Or at least put some brand protocols in place.”
But, for reasons known only to the Divine, all kinds of folks claim to be God’s spokesperson. It’s like the little dogs feel safe as long as they can hide behind the Big Dog.
I don’t like others to carry my mail. If I have something to say, I want to say it and not let others say it for me. But God seems to be okay with letting a couple of zillion people run around claiming to be the PR person for the Divine. The message then becomes incredibly confusing and mixed and a whole lot of hurt happens in the process; all in the name of God.
I believe the most dangerous sentence in the universe begins with, “God told me to….” Those same people always believe that God is on their side.
I used to think that “using God’s name in vain” meant using cussing like a sailor. However, I’m convinced it is used in vain when it is used as an endorsement for beliefs, ideas, products, and ways to control people.
I’m assuming God’s reading this essay, too, and I want it to be perfectly clear: I’m not applying for the job, just making a suggestion; hire a new marketing department; there is a lot of confusing messaging that’s compromising your brand.