Will you pass the TV Test?

Test your private acts by imagining them public.

I  receive e-mails from people wanting advice.

Often, I have no clue what they should do, because sometimes I have no clue what I should do.

Some people say, “That’s easy, just look to the Scriptures.”

Certainly the Bible supplies general guidance about everything from money to sex to gossip, but there are still times when it’s not clear what decision is best.

God’s will can seem elusive in our everyday choices, too.

That’s when I use the TV test.

I ask myself, “If this were shown on television, would I be embarrassed?”

Not sure if you should go to that bar? To that dance? To that person’s house where you could end up in a compromising position?

Just ask yourself the TV question, and you’ll probably get a decent answer.

When I’m on the computer, I ask myself: “Would I be OK if my wife was sitting here next to me when I’m on this Web site?”

That brings immediate clarity.

I use the same question when I’m watching TV and she’s not there. I give it the Roberta test. Some men who travel put a picture of their kids next to the hotel room TV set. The message is loud, without anyone saying a word.

If the kids were with Dad, could they watch this program with him? That certainly keeps we men who travel away from most of the pay movies and from a lot of the late-night premium channels.

For some women, the question would be, “How would my husband, my boyfriend, my best friend feel about me taking part in this chat room?”

Or suppose a phone conversation was played over the radio. Would I be OK with the content if everyone heard it?

Confession time: I struggle with my language. St. Paul told the Romans, “What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.”

That’s me in several areas of my life, including my vocabulary. It’s been cleaned up a lot, and I don’t take God’s name in anger, but I still can be stunned at some of the words coming from my mouth.

I also duel with gossip. I’m in the news business. Perhaps a dozen times a day, someone asks: “What do you hear?” The Indians want to trade for a certain player, or the Browns are close to drafting someone — that’s information.

But sometimes I hear things about the personal lives of athletes and coaches. I have no idea if they are true. I try to sometimes stop people in the middle of a story when it’s obvious where it’s going — and it’s just character assassination disguised as passing along information.

I just say, “That’s OK, I get the point,” and try to change the subject.

But there’s a side of me that finds it tempting to believe the worst about most people. Yet, I expect them to believe the best about me.

Doesn’t exactly line up.

I’m sure someone is reading this and thinking, “I’ve heard Pluto talk, and believe me, he’s not afraid to rip someone.”

So true, and I’m not proud of it. When I criticize someone, I want to take issue with the action, not the person. A smart guy can make a very dumb trade. That doesn’t make him a moron.

I recently listened to a CD of a sermon by Mike Breaux, a pastor from Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago. It was part of a series he did about figuring out God’s will for our life. He said God is more concerned with the person we are and what we are doing rather than where we are doing it.

In real estate, it’s all about location.

In life, it’s about character.

The idea is when we go to work on ourselves in a godly way, life tends to work out better. Not easier, just wiser.


Terry Pluto can be reached at terrypluto2003@yahoo.com. Sign up for Terry’s free, weekly e-mail newsletter “Direct from Pluto” at www.ohio.com.

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