Monday, June 4, 2007

Discipleship and Listerine

While I’m on a Walmart thread I think I’ll do a few posts on stuff you can find in their stores.

Listerine is the by far the world’s largest selling mouthwash. Named after 19th century English doctor Joseph Lister, the original formula of Listerine was famous for its effective germ killing ability and its terrible taste. Despite its bad taste Listerine dominated the market because of its efficacy and reliability.

In time the consumer products giant Procter and Gamble came up with a competing brand called Scope. Its claim to fame was simply the “good tasting’ mouthwash. Overnight the market took note of the difference between the 2 products.

Listerine could do nothing if only because their product did taste horrible. Instead of skirting the issue Listerine faced it head on. They responded to the threat with an advertising campaign that said: “The taste you hate twice a day.”

Not only did they admit the product’s weakness in taste, they admitted people hated it. The result was it set them up to say that’s why the product kills more germs. Instead of migrating to Scope people stayed loyal to Listerine.

Like Listerine disciple makers are not perfect. Fact is there is no such thing as a perfect product (or person). When we are confronted by our weaknesses and failures our response should not be to be defensive. Rather to openly admit that we do have weaknesses in our lives, but that’s precisely why we need the grace that God provides.

Today Listerine has several different flavors that all taste much better than it used to. By admitting its bad taste it allowed them to keep their relationships with their customers and gave them time to make the changes.

This is similar to our discipleship relationships. By admitting our weaknesses and failures we become trustworthy and real and this allows us to keep our relationships. In time we will transform into the person God intended us to be.

See also my other post:
Prayer & Turning 50


Mike Watkins said...

Joey, thanks for lunch last week, and I am missing you guys already. It seems that everywhere I go discipleship and simple relationships are the most avoided "Listerene treatments". It is almost like that book "Green Eggs & Ham" It is the most avoided food but the most useful. It also does not taste that bad. In fact, it is delicious (Sam I am)

Roe said...

Great post, Pastor Joey. Got to read this just now.

Discipleship is so simple, but not always easy. Especially when we realize that every relationship we have is a discipleship relationship. It's difficult because we, ourselves, are works in progress, and we make mistakes. Sometimes, people we are in relationship with make mistakes and sometimes they hurt us, sometimes it gets discouraging. But thank God for His grace and thank God for mentors like you who actually live what they say and inspire me to keep on going, even after a fall.

Addison said...

I think I'm going to name my bible "Listerine". I read it twice a day and it stings every time, but at least I know it's working.