The oil and gas industry invests a lot of time and effort trying to tell its true story to the public.
But more often than not, we’ve got it all wrong.
There is no shortage of oil and gas opponents in the world. They specialize in spreading dastardly myths about the industry.
They say we’re nothing but a bunch of fat old white men who want nothing more than to rape and pillage Mother Earth for their evil profits.
Never mind the fact that you won’t meet many people that care more about land preservation than geologists and geoscientists.
The real takeaway here is that oil and gas opponents don’t operate on logic. The irony is that often times they choose to express their anger on laptops and computers that are basically made of oil while using electricity from a natural gas burning power plant.
But don’t underestimate them. They know exactly what they are doing when they hurl insults at you:
Oil and gas opponents work on emotions, not facts. When you overreact in anger, things are going exactly as they planned. -- Click to Tweet!
The Oil and Gas Industry and Pentecost Sunday
Jim Rohn has a classic bit about St. Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost Sunday. I don’t know what translation he was working from because he seems to have some of the events slightly out of order. But his points hit home just the same.
If you care to listen to The Legend in action, here is the clip:
The Birthday of the Church
If you don’t have the time to watch the video, I’ll sum up the story for you.
St. Peter, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the rest of the disciples were in the Upper Room. Thousands upon thousands of people “out of every nation under heaven” were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the great feast of Pentecost.
Suddenly, a rushing wind filled the room and tongues of fire descended on everyone, hence the images of flames in the icon. They all began speaking in strange languages, but something even stranger happened.
Every person listening heard them speaking in their own language.
As the Scriptures recount, “Behold, are not all these, that speak, Galileans? And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:7-8)
But, while some were astonished, others “mocking, said: These men are full of new wine.” In other words, they were accusing St. Peter and the boys of dipping a little too deep into the Communion wine.
And then a miracle happened.
St. Peter stood up and began to speak. He proceeded to preach the greatest sermon in Church history and, “They therefore that received his word, were baptized; and there were added in that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41)
Notice the number of souls. St. Peter made 3,000 converts with ONE sermon. That’s a pretty extraordinary first day!
But remember what it said at the beginning, “Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven…Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians…” (Acts 2:5,9-11)
After hearing the 3,000 number, you might think he converted everyone. But by all accounts this was a HUGE crowd. There is also a phrase that jumps out and says there were far more than 3,000 listening. That phrase is:
“They therefore that received his word…”
You Only Need the Believers
That bears repeating, “They therefore that received his word…”
Maybe some of the mockers were among the 3,000. Maybe the mockers walked away and continued mocking. Either way, we don’t know exactly who made up the first 3,000 souls.
But here are two facts we DO know:
- Not everyone who heard the message chose to accept it.
- St. Peter and the rest of the disciples didn’t chase after the crowd that rejected his message overrun with emotions trying to convince them to change their minds. They found the believers and moved on so they could continue preaching the Good News and find the next group of believers.
This is a fantastic model for all of oil and gas to follow. Because we don’t need everyone on our side. We only need the believers:
Instead of overreacting & trying to convert the multitude, the oil and gas industry needs to focus on finding the believers. -- Click to Tweet!
Finding Your Tribe
Just as it was at Pentecost, it’s still pretty easy to tell the difference between a potential believer and a mocker. Mockers of oil and gas drive cars. But instead of complaining about gas prices, they complain about YOUR carbon footprint -- just before hopping on their tour bus to head back home.
They also believe in global warming like an infallibly defined religious doctrine. They mock and laugh at anyone who dare question the Great and Powerful Oz -- err, Al.
But potential believers act very differently.
They lean in, ask questions and seek the truth. They are concerned about the environment, and also about feeding their families while keeping the heat on in the winter.
They might have seen pictures of places in Africa where residents live in energy poverty and don’t have access to modern energy sources. People who once lived in lush countrysides that now look more like desolate wastelands.
They also really like their neighbor John. And they’re happy he can make a very healthy six-figure income to provide for his family, even if he barely graduated high school.
The Great Mystery
If you’re wondering where this post came from -- other than lifting it from Jim Rohn! -- I spent 3 years discerning the Catholic Priesthood and was in seminary for 1 semester on 2 separate occasions.
At the seminary and among priests there is an old saying that is often attributed to Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who had quite a knack for persuasion, “God’s in control -- He’s in management; I’m just in sales!”
And that’s the point. Who knows why someone would oppose the production of oil and gas while driving a car and living on the grid? Who knows what makes someone support it, or switch sides of the debate?
But even if you can’t solve that mystery, you can at the very least forget the mockers and focus on finding believers. You can rise above the white noise and develop your authentic voice. You can tell the true story of oil and gas.
In the process, you will find your multitude and all Americans will enjoy the benefits of lower energy costs -- even the mockers.
What do you think? How do you handle oil and gas opponents if they try to spark up an argument? Have you ever diffused a potentially explosive situation and made substantial progress in a conversation? How did you do it?
Please leave a comment below!