That I’ve been sort of dazzled by nice watches and cool sunglasses might not come as a surprise to many who have known me over the years.
But I’ve learned the hard way that the more I spend on such the more likely I am to lose or break them. Along the way I discovered that I can acquire a watch that looks a lot like timepieces that are much more expensive. The same can be said for sunglasses. I mean who hasn’t received an email, Twitter or Facebook link to cheap Ray Bans or Oakleys?
For most of the last 38 years, my life has been intertwined with the university (Trevecca Nazarene University) for which I work. In 1967, Trevecca’s alumni association president, Howard Wall, Jr., helped design a new college seal and incorporated the Latin phrase: Esse Quam Videri – To Be Rather Than To Seem.
I’ve used the phrase hundreds of times. I’ve invoked it from time to time in talks to youth groups at retreats and summer camps. I’ve even usurped its noble purpose to claim the high moral ground when comparing our university to others or why I think my church is doing things better than another.
To be rather than to seem. It’s a brilliant and humble turn of a phrase. Being is much more important that seeming. And this truth is speaking loudly into my life again.
So am I simply perpetuating a facade by wearing good looking watches that cost less than $20 or sunglasses that, if they were the real thing, would cost $150 or more rather than $24.99 plus shipping from somewhere in China? Maybe so. Maybe not.
For me, things like watches and sunglasses are matters of taste and function. I don’t hide from the fact that I’ve found a less expensive way to attain them. But when it comes to valuing others and certain institutions in which I am deeply invested, being real is a non-negotiable.
The work that I do at Trevecca with its students, alumni and church constituents, must be valued on a different level than watches and sunglasses. My time with people and the lenses through which I view them must be real!
And I think you have the same need in your life regardless of where you live and work.
I’m not big on making New Years resolutions. I am big on making commitments, on a daily basis, to treat people rightly and to confess that “God is God and I am not.”
However, in the spirit of a new calendar year, I will put myself on record as saying I’ve never had a greater desire to be real in my relationships with others and in my relationship with God. To that end, I’m committing myself to more consistent prayer, Bible and devotional reading, and reflection on whether I’m being rather than seeming.