Photo by Eduardo Sánchez on Unsplash

Most everyone who reads this will be probably be familiar with the song, “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus.” The chorus of that song says, “Love one another as Jesus loves you. Try to show kindness in all that you do.” Today, I want to apply this lesson, so wonderfully taught in that song, to an odd group of people: telemarketers.

Now, hear me out. Somehow, my phone number has been registered with seemingly every telemarketing company known to man. I receive at least one phone call a day from numbers I don’t know, trying to sell me this, that, or the other. Normally, I don’t answer phone calls from numbers I don’t know, but occasionally I do because I’m waiting for a call from a doctor or some other person who’s not in my contact list. The other day, I answered the phone, and what do you know, it’s a telemarketer on the other line. Normally, I would be disgruntled, but I felt like I should instead be kind. I can’t remember who I had recently witnessed be kind to a telemarketer, but their actions had stuck with me, so I followed their example and the prompting. I can’t remember what the telemarketer wanted me to buy or do, but I just kindly said I wasn’t interested, he pushed a little, to which I stood my ground, and politely asked to be taken off his call list. It was a TINY interaction with a person I will never know, but it felt good to be kind to a fellow human being. Here’s why I think this is important:

I was once that person on the phone. Well, sort of. I worked at an in-bound call center for Ancestry.com. (You know that giant family history company.) That means that people were calling us, WANTING help from us. And let me tell you, it was miserable. You would think that people would be kind when they’re calling you, but it turns out they’re just as ornery when they call you as when you call them. Working that job was rough for multiple reasons, but it was simply disheartening to get belittled and yelled at over and over again, especially when you’re trying to help people out. My best results on the phone always came when I gently reminded these angry people that I, too, was a fellow human being. As I showed them humanity (despite their initial rudeness), they too would generally show me humanity.

Well, it’s different when you call a person for help than when they call you unsolicited, you may say. But, is it really? I mean, sure, get mad at robocalls all you want. Those are, agreeably, the worst. But has a poor human telemarketer caused you any harm? Think about it this way: they’re just trying to get through their day as much as you’re just trying to get through yours. Their job is to call you, and I think our job, at least as people who profess to be Christians, is to be kind—to “love one another as Jesus loves you.” I know that when I was on the phones, if I had one kind person brighten my day, it really could turn the whole day around, despite the number of people who yelled at me. The great thing is, we have the power to be kind to those human beings on the other end. We can either choose to be annoyed by them or choose to be kind to them. That choice is literally up to you and me. My best friend has a genius for a mother, and when my friend was little, her mom wouldn’t allow them to say, “She’s making me mad.” They had to say, “She’s being stubborn, and I’m choosing to be mad.” This mentality applies to all situations of life. We are choosing to react to situations in one way or another; nobody is making us mad or annoyed. A telemarketer cannot make you do anything; you choose to let that telemarketer bother you.

I think we so often forget that kindness and love are commandments. We forget it when someone cuts us off in traffic. We forget it when the road is filled with snowbird drivers. We forget it when we are just mad at the world. What we need to remember is that kindness and love begin with us. No matter what happens to us, it is up to us to respond to other human beings with kindness and love like Jesus Christ would. This includes telemarketers, and everyone else who has the unfortunate job of being an annoying person (door-to-door salesmen, I’m looking at you). Remember that kindness is for everyone, because everyone is a child of God: you, me, and that foreign man who just called you trying to get you to sign up a new credit card.

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