Under The Collar Experiment

Monday, June 30, 2014

Lie to Me

Would you lie to someone in a ministerial collar? 

For some reason, I have been lied to more so far this year than I have ever been lied to in my life (that I'm aware of, anyway). There have been big lies and little lies, lies from children and lies from adults. Why am I being lied to? Is it because of my collar?

I expect to be lied to as a minister in the normal ways people choose to play the social game.  According to a recent study, 60 percent of people lie, on average, three times every 10 minutes. Phrases like: “Does this collar make my head look big?” throw most people into a social constraint that creates a lie. I actually don’t consider those kinds of comments lies. 

According to truth and credibility expert Paul Ekman, the liar must deliberately try to mislead the target.   So, if you have their permission, it’s not a lie.  In Poker, the players are not lying to one another because they have agreed to a set of rules ahead of time.  If we have an understanding that when I ask such fashion-related questions that I want the truth, then you would be lying to say it looks fine when it does not.  And if you tell me it looks fine when it does not and we don’t have that understanding of the rules of the game, then you would be lying.  The rules in our cultural religious game are: we don’t lie to a minister.  The default in my personal rule book is that I don’t ever want to be lied to, even when it hurts.

I have enough experience in a collar to know that being a minister provokes confession. I guess for some reason I believed that my collar created another layer of truth seeking, a safety net of sorts.  The collar also serves as a social lubricant that moves a conversation to things that matter most in people’s lives.  My role becomes an excuse to go deeper.    My presence evokes difficult conversations about mistakes and guilt. This is one of many things I love about the ministry.  I have always been terrible at small talk and I am a terrible liar.  The role of minister sometimes brings with it a blind trust that really ought to be earned. Lying to me when I am in my collar, however, feels like it takes more hutzpah than when lying to me in my street clothes. 

Manipulating people is wrong.  Trying to manipulate me when I am in my collar seems maniacal and something one should consider looking at more deeply, possibly with the help of a trusted minister.

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