A Baffling Conversation with an Inappropriate, Foul-Mouthed, Pompous Christian Business Owner (Or is it Just Me?)

A Baffling Conversation with an Inappropriate, Foul-Mouthed, Pompous Christian Business Owner (Or is it Just Me?) March 8, 2015

hiresThere is this gentlemen – I’ll call him Ray Smith- who was a prominent business owner in the region. He was well known, not just for his company and the products it sold, but also for their charitable works. Ray had even set up a special non-profit entity for the specific purpose of funneling his company’s profits into missions-oriented and disaster relief projects.

One day I was chatting with an entrepreneurial friend of mine whose business was taking off like a rocket. He asked if I had any ideas on how he might structure a way to channel his corporate profits towards doing good works. I immediately thought of Ray, and suggested we set up a lunch meeting to explore the possibilities.

The next day I dialed over to Ray’s office and spoke with his polite young assistant, Brian.

“Mr. Smith isn’t in at the moment, but I can take a message for you.”

“Can I leave a voice mail?” I asked.

“No, I handle all of Mr. Smith’s affairs, and I’ll take care of it for you.”

I don’t know what the big hoo-ha was with the personal male assistant and all, since none of the other execs around here have any trouble picking up the phone and returning a call. I chalked it up to eccentricity, and politely told Brian of my interest in a meeting.

A couple of days later, he called back.

“You’ll be meeting Mr. Smith at Le Espalier for lunch next Thursday,” Brian proclaimed, enunciating every consonant.

It was the fanciest French restaurant within a forty mile radius. Surely we didn’t need all the pomp and rigmarole associated with such as place, but I was excited to introduce my friend to a fellow CEO of such integrity, such a wonderful example of corporate generosity and living out the gospel in the corporate setting.

On the appointed day, the Maitre d’ sat us at our table and we all began to talk. Or, I should say, Ray began to talk.

Right off the bat, he spat out an off-color joke that had a punch line ending with a curse word. Now, I have nothing against using salty language now and then, strategically placed in select conversations, of course, and in the context of appropriate company. But this was just odd, having had just met under the pretense of discussing missions work.

Ray then went to great lengths name-dropping several celebrities, one of which he was apparently working closely with as a sponsor for some type of national youth outreach program. He followed this with another first-hand celebrity story involving a famous Christian artist and – I don’t quite know how to put this – a mishap with his private parts. We all pretended to laugh heartily, as I exchanged fearful glances with my friend.

Was Ray purposefully trying to shock us? Or make a statement? Is this how he advertises his anti-Evangelical-Establishment leanings? “Hey guys, I’m a progressive, relevant, fun-loving, foul-mouthed Christian business owner who doesn’t give a F** about your old-fashioned rules of religious engagement!”

For his next trick, he switched gears and talked up his global travels, and how he funded trips for several of his employees to visit impoverished areas of the world, “because it totally blows their mind, man.” This, at least, was somewhat on topic.

This excruciatingly inappropriate lunch hour eventually came to an end as he abruptly asked for the check and adjourned the meeting.

As my friend and I stood by watching his Mercedes peal out of the parking lot, I silently mouthed, “WHAT WAS THAT?”

“What an idiot,” was all my friend had to say.

I apologized profusely during the first few minutes in the car, and then we spent the rest of the ride mocking Ray’s pompous attitude.

A couple of years later, Ray’s business filed for bankruptcy under a great deal of public scrutiny.

It was scandalous, actually.

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