"We are good at copying but not good at being authentic." Those were difficult words for a pastor to say, but both he and I knew they were true. As we talked, he told me he had visited enough congregations to know how churches freely "borrowed" others' identity.Â I ran into that problem early on in my marketing career as I was asked to create something that looked exactly like someone else's work . Even today, my company gets calls from churches that want to use one of our client'sÂ logo, brand identity and promises as their own. That's disaster waiting to happen.
I believe that's a problem way beyond churches and businesses.Â We often want to copy the style of something or someone without possession any of the substance.Â I know church leaders go to great lengths to look and act likeÂ prominent Christian leaders without spending the time and discipline it takes to develop the skills that propel these successful men and women.
It takes more than plastic frame glasses, a shirt from the Buckle, and an iPad to make you a good communicator, much less a good leader.Â Wearing a vest with a t-shirt and jeans doesn't make you any more relevant and authentic than wearing your underwear over spandex tights makes you a superhero.Â Substance, not style, ultimately wins.
Have you ever been taken in by the style but let down by the lack of substance? Â I'm sure you have.Â These are the times that an institution or a person promised something they never fully delivered. Sadly, many of us have walked away from churches, businesses, friendships and marriages because we fell in love with the promise of the packaging but couldn't live with the performance of the product. It's amazing when we get both, however.
When was the last time you walked away from a relationship or an institution because the product did not match the promise? What could have changed that?