Cigarette Butts & My Pride
There’s a back entrance to the office building at my church – and it leads right to my office, so it’s the primary one I use. I’m pretty sure I use that specific entrance more than anyone else does.
Recently I’ve noticed a growing supply of cigarette butts just outside my door.
It makes sense. It’s probably the best location for smoking on our campus – it’s private, it’s covered, it’s sheltered from the wind, and there are some nice steps for sitting down on. I’m not surprised about the collection of cigarette butts there…
And although I am not surprised, I am bothered by it. Not because I’m concerned about smoking being a sin or bad for your health or whatever.
I’m bothered because every time I walk by them, my first reaction is to wonder if anyone thinks I’M THE ONE SMOKING.
I imagine someone taking the back steps of the office building, looking down and noticing all those cigarette butts, and picturing me in their mind – sitting on those steps having a cigarette break between meetings or services.
The truth is, I don’t want anyone to picture me smoking. These cigarette butts bother my pride.
Every day I’m tempted to go pick them all up and throw them away. And that wouldn’t be a bad idea. They’re litter; we generally do pick up litter and throw it away. But I’ve been choosing to leave them there as a reminder…
They remind me that I’m too concerned with my image. My pride makes me neurotic. Image management is an addiction – and it’s far more destructive than nicotine, tar, and carcinogens.
So I’m going to leave the cigarette butts where they are. I like the daily reminder of how prideful I really am, and the futility of image management.
I’m sick of your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. —Amos 5.21 MSG
QUESTION: What tempts you to go on your own personal little image management campaign?
Every Tuesday morning when I first sit down at my desk, I make a To-Do list for the week.
These are all things I need to get done to be ready for Sunday. Clean Kid’s Life, plan a small group activity, etc.
The 5th item on this week’s list says: Clean up cigarette butts.
Guess I’ll leave them there though
I love it.
Having a smoke with your neighbor is one of the most loving & missional things a believer may ever do. It’s not about the butts, it’s about the person, the conversation.