I became a lawyer in 1985; November 1, 1985, to be exact. I stood before a Colorado Supreme Court Justice, raised my right hand, and spoke the following oath:
I will support the Constitution of the United States and the
Constitution of the State of Colorado;
I will maintain the respect due to courts and judicial officers;
I will employ such means as are consistent with truth and honor;
I will treat all persons whom I encounter through my practice of law with
fairness, courtesy, respect, and honesty;
I will use my knowledge of the law for the betterment of society
and the improvement of the legal system;
I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of
the defenseless or oppressed;
I will, at all times, faithfully and diligently adhere to the
Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.
Back then, the oath included four additional words, “so, help me, God.” The hundred or so other newly-minted attorneys and I dared utter that phrase as part of our commitment to the practice of law and the families we hoped to serve throughout our careers. I didn’t know God then, but it always made sense to me to enlist someone who could actually help, even if I didn’t know Him personally. Sadly, like most things these days, I’m sure the phrase offended somebody somewhere along the way, so the “powers that be” removed it quietly and without any fanfare.
Merriam-Webster defines “oath” as “a solemn, usually formal, calling upon God to witness to the truth of what one says, or to witness that one sincerely intends to do what one says.” Yep, that was me, alright. There I was in my new suit, with my wife and parents proudly observing from the audience. It was a milestone in my life and an experience I fondly remember. That day, I gave up my old way of life and promised to live and work differently for another, more noble purpose.
When the ceremony was over, we were all part of the same club. We were Attorneys and Counselors at Law. It didn’t matter if we were ultimately going to be estate planners or tax geeks, bankruptcy, divorce, or criminal law practitioners, or corporate or courtroom professionals. We were all lawyers and darn proud of it.
Over the next several years, the attorneys I came to know and respect in the greater Colorado Springs area spent regular time together, called each other, helped and supported one another, and had lunch together. We were fierce competitors and zealous advocates, but at our core, we were associates, comrades, and friends, bound together by the law, and a desire to help others. Serving people in the legal system was our common denominator, our absolute. Whenever things got rough, we always came back to that fundamental purpose.
When I became a Christian five years later, the stakes were higher, but the experience was much the same. It was a far more private setting in my friend’s living room, and I wore jeans and a polo shirt. My parents weren’t there, but some friends were; so was my wife, proudly observing from the couch. It was an experience that changed the arc of my life, one for which I’m forever grateful. That day, I gave up my old way of life and promised to live and work differently for another, more noble purpose.
When the prayer was over, I became part of another club. We were Christians. It didn’t matter if we were ultimately going to be Lutheran, Methodist, Charismatic, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, or non-denominational. We were all Christians and darn proud of it.
Over the next several years, the believers I came to know and respect in the greater Colorado Springs area spent regular time together, called each other, helped and supported one another, and had lunch together. We were from all walks of life, professions, jobs, races, colors, male and female. We were sometimes fierce competitors and zealous advocates, but at our core, we were associates, comrades, and friends, bound together by our love for Jesus, and a common desire to help others. Serving people in their daily walk with God was our common denominator, our absolute. Whenever things got rough, we always came back to that fundamental purpose.
“So, that’s a nice history lesson, Counselor, but what’s your point?”
I was fired recently by a seemingly smart, wonderful, funny, sweet-spirited Christian lady. We had only met once to discover if we were a fit to work together. I believed we had an extraordinary meeting, that we connected, not just intellectually but personally. I learned about her life and her children. I thought we were a “fit.” She hugged me as she left and told me she looked forward to our next meeting. As you know, a hug is how we measure success at GLC. I was looking forward to working with her and her, me, or so I thought.
Apparently, not. This otherwise delightful lady sent me a text message – not a phone call or even an email – a text message, advising me that she was terminating our relationship because, in her words, “We have very different value systems. You are charismatic in your faith, and I am not. Therefore, I don’t believe we can work together. Goodbye.” End of discussion. Rudeness knows no faith.
Now, this isn’t my first rodeo. Although I work hard to keep my promises, I have been far from perfect in my quest, both as an attorney and a Christ-follower. Clients have fired me for different reasons, and I, them. I’ve even been fired for being a Christian. But honestly, being fired for being the wrong kind of Christian is new for me.
I suppose it’s a part of the new “normal” culture; where we love things and use people instead of the other way around; where the focus is on “me and my needs” instead of helping others as servant leaders and working toward the collective good where a rising tide raises all boats. It’s a dark place where truth is relative, absolutes mere placeholders, chivalry lies on life-support, ignored, and professional courtesy sits dusty and forgotten, in a locked closet, an obsolete idea from a time long ago. In my humble opinion, when the loudest, most vile voice gets the most attention, when values and freedoms are trampled in the name of progress, when common sense is ridiculed, it’s time to leave.
I’m going back to Yesteryear, where a person’s word is their bond, concepts like kindness, fairness, courtesy, respect, and honesty mean something; where relationships matter. Yesteryear is a land where servant leaders are trumpeted, honor is valued and respected, and people listen, and tell the truth. Yesteryear is a place where helping others is ordinary, and a handshake and a hug deliver a message; they aren’t just one more socially correct thing we do. The inhabitants of Yesteryear focus on the absolutes that bring us together. Everything else is just conversation and opinion, suitable for discussion at a cocktail party, certainly not a way of life. Maybe it’s not going back. Perhaps it’s moving forward.
Does anybody want to come with me?
Douglas G. Goldberg, Esq.
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