Trivial complaints and transforming “brand promises”

I packed my car last Saturday morning with Christmas ornaments and paraphernalia we are no longer using. I checked online with a local benevolence organization to be sure they took such donations, learning that they did and that they opened at 9 a.m. 

So I drove over, only to discover that they do not take donations until 10 a.m. I returned home, waited an hour, returned to the facility, unloaded my car onto their carts, and returned home. 

This second trip was annoying. I had acted earlier in accordance with their website’s posted hours of operation. The fault was theirs, not mine, but I was paying for their chronological malfeasance with my time. 

When people don’t do what they advertise that they will do, the rest of us are understandably frustrated. I can cite more examples in recent days: 

  • a plumber that came to our house but did not know how to solve our problem
  • a package that arrived two days later than promised upon purchase
  • a salad delivered by a restaurant waiter with the wrong dressing
  • a steak that was so undercooked as to be nearly inedible 

These are all “first world problems,” as they say. 

Marketers would call these “broken brand promises.” A brand makes a commitment to deliver a product or service. If it does not follow through, it has broken this promise. Of course, none of the examples I cited rises beyond the level of mere annoyances. In a world filled with tragedy and suffering every day, writing (or reading) about them hardly seems worth the trouble. 

And yet there is a larger lesson here, I discovered. 

As I was complaining internally about the benevolence company that did not keep its “brand promise,” this thought came to mind: I do the same thing every day. 

I am a “Christian,” which means a “Christ-follower” or even “little Christ.” This is my “brand.” Following Jesus so fully that others see Jesus in me and are drawn to him is the biblical “brand promise” Christians make to the world (cf. Matthew 5:13–16, Acts 1:8). 

Every time I act in disobedience to God’s word and will, I break this “promise.” Every time I am less than the “body of Christ,” the visible manifestation of his ongoing ministry in the world (1 Corinthians 12:27), his “brand” suffers. The consequences are not merely time spent making a second trip to a local benevolence center—they are eternal. 

The good news is that the One whose brand promise I make to the world wants to empower me to keep it. His Spirit resides in me (1 Corinthians 3:16) and will enable me to follow him fully (Zechariah 4:6) and to display the “fruit” of his character to everyone I encounter (Galatians 5:22–23). 

I must make two decisions in response. 

The first is to choose his brand over mine. 

I am to seek his glory, not my own, to decrease that he might increase, as John the Baptist said of himself (John 3:30). 

The second is to ask his Spirit to empower me to be the Christ-follower my “brand” promises that I am (Ephesians 5:18). 

I am to begin every day by submitting to the Spirit, then walk through the day practicing the presence of Jesus and staying so close to him that others see his light reflected in my life. 

Here’s one last fact: the more we manifest Jesus to the world, the more we experience his joy, peace, and fulfillment in our personal lives. 

The more we love him, the more we will honor and serve him, and the more we honor and serve him, the more we will love him. The joy he gives transcends any the world offers. When we love Jesus and therefore love our neighbor, the transformation that results begins in us. 

The lighthouse that shines farthest shines brightest at home. 

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