There are many ways lies grow. I’ve been reviewing 10 ways they grow in this series. I’m presenting these as “steps” or “stages” in a narrative, but people skip all around in this list in reality. I have noticed this pattern, however. Often times after someone starts by rationalizing a lie, getting away with it, and then telling it twice, the person who told a lie realizes…
4) They get good at it.
I’ve intentionally referred to the “they” in this narrative as “the person who told a lie” but haven’t used the term “Liar.” At stage 4 a person starts to get good at lying. They learn how to nuance stories, to make excuses, and massage the truth. They become a liar.
A person at stage 4 has been getting some practice at this lie thing – maybe one big lie they are telling for a long time. Or maybe they have told lies a few times in their career, or in their family, and they are becoming a serial liar.
There are a few key skills that liars get good at:
a) Specificity – a cheating wife doesn’t just tell her husband: “I was out with the girls.” She instead covers more specifically by saying: “I was with Rhonda and we decided to go catch that new Tom Cruise movie.”
b) Conviction – an employee fudging their timesheet will pour their own job frustration into an emotional defense: “I can’t believe you’d even question my hours—I put in way more than I even put down on that sheet.”
c) Inattentiveness – a man with an addiction will hide the paranoia of the questions about how he is doing with a nonchalant attitude that covers the inner wheels turning to make sure the signs of falling off the wagon don’t show.
d) Misdirection – a teen who doesn’t want you to know where they were last night will change the subject, earnestly starting a conversation out of the blue on some subject they know the parent would love to talk about.
e) Humor – a co-worker will crack a joke when a question related to her lies comes up, which is another form of misdirection but one in which she actually gains appreciation at work an the lie is.*
*By the way, this series is not for pastors, per se, but since pastors do a whole lot of preaching, and get good at communication, I’d add that they get good at all 5 of these skills that translate very well into becoming a good liar. In fact I would say that all professions that require exceptional communication skills (politics, legal, teaching, sales, etc) are dangerous breeding grounds for lying. If you’re in one of these fields, watch yourself.
Lance Armstrong admitted that he lied in his Oprah interview last week. But more than a few reporters and sports-writers have pointed out that the interview it self was staged and narrated just like his image has always been. As Bonnie Ford of ESPN says:
“It was a typical Lance Event, although it was about as far from the bike as it gets. It was about spectacle, managed production and trying to craft another chapter in a punctured epic that has lost its helium and sunk to earth. It was about what it is always about with Lance Armstrong: hubris and control, the same tightly intertwined strands of his DNA that convinced him he would never be exposed, that the dozens and dozens of people privy to his pyramid scheme would remain muzzled forever.” (Source)
Lance is great at the managed event, the manipulated story. Perhaps even his confession itself is part of the lie he is still telling. Now, we might not be giving him grace to change, but that’s how it works with liars—they get so good at lying you don’t know when they are telling the truth anymore.
So, how do you get out of this?
Again, this seems impossible. Once a liar has not only rationalized it, gotten away with it and then told it twice they are in pretty deep. If they do this multiple times and actually start to hone the skills of lying things start to accelerate, and the hubris begins to multiply. If you find that you’re actually getting kinda good at telling lies it’s time to get help. Confession to a friend may not be the answer. It’s time to talk to a professional. Three Options:
- Talk to a Pastor. Tell her about your propensity to lie. Tell her you might even try to lie to her in the meeting. Ask for prayer. Confess the sin. Get good biblical advice on how God can change your heart on this matter.
- Talk to a Counselor. Tell him about what triggers the lies. Tell him about the last lie you got away with. Ask for ways to be a truthful person. Consider options for future truth-telling. Get good clinical advice on how your emotions are tricking you into lying when you know it’s wrong.
- Talk to Both. (All the best Pastors I know recommend you also see a counselor. All the best counselors I know recommend you also see a pastor. I suggest you see both—different sides of the same coin in some ways.)
If they don’t watch it someone at stage 4 is about to cross over into life-changing lie-perpetuation. So this may seem like very serious advice to the liar. But if you’re starting to become a “good liar” I say it’s time to talk to a professional.