What color is your Sacred Cow?
7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:1-5
I just finished a 45 minute conversation with someone who desperately needs financial coaching. She and her husband are drowning in debt, can’t pay the minimums on their bills, having trouble putting food on the table, and have been harassed by collectors for months on end. And yet what had been a productive conversation on steps to take to turn the situation around ended when I discovered her sacred cow which she is unwilling to slaughter for any reason. And it’s the most frequent sacred cow that I find...a car. The unusual part is that the car is almost always the husband’s sacred cow, not the wife’s. In this case, eating out is the husband’s issue. It’s funny. No actually it’s sad....we talked at length about whether we might be able to convince hubby to give up eating out to the tune of hundreds of dollars a week, for the sake of getting on a budget and getting out of debt. "Surely he can see how his food spending habits are contributing to our financial ruin, right? I mean, think what a difference that money could make if we could apply it to debt!" And yet when it came to the car, which could make thousands of dollars of difference in one fell swoop (selling the car and buying something slightly older than 2 years old) this otherwise reasonable sounding lady completely shut down. No way, no how. Can’t put food on the table, but by gum I won’t give up my SUV. She is unwilling to admit that one can ride safely (yes, even with 2 children), in a vehicle that doesn’t cost somewhere in the mid-$20,000’s. So unfortunately in the end I was unable to help this couple. All because of a sacred cow. It makes me very sad, because I could see the potential for their debt-free life in a few short years, as well as the nightmare they are currently living in and will continue to live if things don’t drastically change. But the hardest lesson I’ve learned as a coach, and continue to learn, is that I can’t want it more than they want it.
So what does your your sacred cow look like? I started out with the scripture from Matthew which is one of the most misinterpreted passages in the Bible. There are plenty of passages that instruct us to judge, and to judge rightly. This one specifically targets hypocrisy though. The speck and the log are obviously sins, and we are to recognize our own sin and repent of it before accusing someone else of the same sin. I think the sin in this case translates into, well, pride, of sorts. Unwillingness to admit our own weaknesses, failings, shortcomings, and ....sacred cows, and the harm they are causing to our family, while having no problem pointing them out in our spouse, or others.
We all have our sacred cows. Sometimes they are more like the 800 pound gorilla in the room though. You would think that the bigger they are the easier it would be to accept their existence and deal with it. But the bigger they are the harder they are to give up as well.
I’m in the business of slaughtering sacred cows. It is often a thankless job. But I'm gonna
keep doing it anyway.