Saturday, December 16, 2023



I have never been known for my ability to grow facial hair.  This is disappointing, especially when considering how my dad and both brothers can grow fabulous beards and I am left with the mediocre allotment of facial hair sequestered to the tip of my chinny chin chin. 

Despite these inadequacies, I remember my boss confronting me each day as I walked into The Pizza Hut for my delivery shift while in college.

“Ryan! You need to shave!”

“Why? I just shaved last week!”

“You need to shave every day before work.  That is the rule. Now go into the back room and shave with the used rusty razor in the back.”

I did as he said.  In fact, I did as he said each day as I arrived for work unshaven. 

After having shorn my three to five whiskers, I grabbed my first delivery and darted to my 1991 Ford Escort.  I quickly worked the manual transmission of the 1.9 liter, four cylinder efficiently through the icy narrow streets of Excelsior, Minnesota. I pulled up behind the targeted house on Maple Street and left the engine running.  The quicker I moved, the more deliveries I could take and thus the more tips I could make on a given night.  This was important to me in lieu of needing to save up enough money for an engagement ring for my girlfriend…or a boat…I hadn’t decided yet. (Note to the reader…I chose the boat first…but please don’t tell my wife).

I ran to the door, heeding my boss’s mantra, “Fast on your feet and not on the seat.” I swung the storm door open, held it in place with my backside, feeling the hydraulic closer pressing up against my back.  I knocked on the door and when the homeowner revealed himself, I read back the order with the skill of an auctioneer, received the payment and the tip and dashed back to my running Escort allowing the storm door to crash closed behind me. 

As I ran, I was briefly troubled by the abrupt tug and crash that came from the no longer visible storm door.  Additionally, I began to sense the winter cold penetrating me in a way that had not been there moments ago.  When I reached my Ford and crawled in, it became apparent that some of my uniform was no longer with me.  In fact, the required black slacks of my Pizza Hut attire had been replaced in the back with white BVD’s. 

I knew that the boss would not approve of my uniform alterations, so as when I returned to the store I found a roll of duct tape and went to work securing my torn slacks with silver gray adhesive strips. 

It was several deliveries later when my boss took issue with my new look. 

“Ryan?! What is the deal with your pants? You cannot wear that.  You know our uniform policy, and we expect you to adhere to it strictly.”

“Well sir…here’s the thing…I ripped my pants and…”

“Never mind…I don’t want to know.”

Needless to say, I was not allowed to work again until I had replaced the black pants…and shaved.

It makes sense that my boss had to hold to a line that would preserve the image and integrity of the Pizza Hut company.  Yet, in my reading of the scriptures this week, (Matthew 1:18-25),I have found myself astounded by what would appear to his friends, family and culture, that Joseph, the husband of Mary, forsook all of his self preservation and laid himself vulnerable and bare to criticism, ridicule and shame. 

Joseph had a good and well known reputation and he was willing to let all of that go when God asked him to take Mary to be his wife.  Joseph was willing to obey God and let his preserved reputation go to the wayside. 

I wonder how often I choose to preserve my own reputation over trusting God. How often do I consider what people will think of me over doing what is right and following Jesus?  I am willing to bet that I am not alone in this realization.  I suspect that most of mankind may find themselves in a constant struggle of worrying about how they will be viewed by others.  If we are honest with ourselves, I believe that we will see how we tirelessly work to preserve our own reputations. 

May we come to celebrate the righteousness of Christ…even at the cost of our own reputations!

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