Franklin we can do better

Published 9:34 pm Sunday, April 30, 2023

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They say that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The wisdom saying is grounded in reality. It’s also grounded in scripture. 

I am aware that in Matthew 7: 2-3, the gospel writer recorded Jesus saying, “For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” 

What I’m about to explore feels like a pretty vulnerable exercise. Because none of us ever have our own house completely in order. What I do every day could be criticized just as easily. Because I don’t get every moment right. 

I want to make a call for us in this region to rediscover an ambitious spirit of customer service. I do so only out of the latitude originally given to me as I began writing a weekly column. Most weeks, my charge is to address the past Sunday’s lectionary text as treated in my sermon.

But, I’ve been offered the freedom to also speak to matters that could use a little light shone on them occasionally. Additionally, I offer this nudge in the hopes that we can step up our collective business, religious and cultural act so that we offer to each other the best Franklin we can.

Here’s the thing. Franklin, we can do better and we need to now. I can argue that for my years here, I’ve been as big a proponent of “shop local, eat local” commitment as anyone. That is, in my column space here as well as on social media and with my wallet I have lived the commitment to our locals. 

That means local trades people, as well as our shopkeepers and restaurants. I try to put my money where my mouth is. When we did a complete renovation of our home kitchen recently, we used a fabulous local designer. We stipulated that all our contractors and companies needed to be Franklin-based. 

With the exception of one service not available here, from start to finish every contractor who stepped foot in our house was local. The outcome was beautiful and we were so satisfied. 

Still, I notice so much that could be better as I do business around our area. I acknowledge that folks have been trying to shake off the haze of the post-Covid economy and labor market. At this point, though, I wonder if we’re over-using that as an excuse for poor performance. 

If you say you’ll do work for me, how about actually coming over and doing the work. If you tell me you’ll show up on Tuesday morning, how about showing up on Tuesday morning. It doesn’t cost anything for your word to be your bond. 

If you’re repairing someone’s vehicle, how about you don’t dig parts out of a junkyard and install them without first asking the customer if that’s okay. Yes, that happened. If you take my reservation, what if you keep that reservation rather than disappointing a loyal, regular patron like me.

If you belong to a group, the organization is incomplete every time you’re not present. If there are financial obligations pledged, we should stay current or take the effort to communicate why we are struggling. 

These are basic human things. They all share one common trait: our word as our bond. I know that sounds old fashioned, but I would argue that it’s actually timeless and essential. Else nothing much beyond that will matter. 

Franklin has had a lot of new residents move in lately. To some, that might not exactly be great news. But to the vast majority of us, it’s so encouraging. Those newcomers can be among the greatest ambassadors that our area could possibly have. 

Treat them shabbily, though, and they’ll tell five friends about that, too. Some of them have moved from far larger areas where they are used to having a plethora of options. Act as though their business doesn’t matter, and they’ll be the next customers you complain about not shopping or eating local. But, who could blame them?

We have a great quality of life here. We have a growing cultural and arts scene, new parks in development and visionary leaders who are working on amazing next steps. What if we all shook off the fog of recent years and ramped up our game to match all the wonderful things that are happening right here?

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.