It was driving my buddy crazy... mainly because my friend is a Christian, and this guy was a local pastor.
For months this went on, and as soon as the customer would leave a conversation would begin about how hypocritical the guy was and how "all Christians are that way." This was a hard challenge for my friend, especially because (like anyone) he isn't perfect but is in a growing relationship with God. So he not only had to deal with his own shortcomings, but found himself apologizing for the customer's behavior... like when you bring a date to a family gathering and are embarrassed by your crazy uncle or aunt.
We all have someone watching us. Maybe it's in your own household... a kid. a parent, a sibling, another family member, or a roommate who wants to know if we are the real deal or all talk and no show. Perhaps it's a neighbor or a co-worker... a fellow student or someone we see at the gym. Everyone holds everyone to a standard, be it appropriately or inappropriately.
And it truly is tough. Sometimes we are held to an unfair ideal of perfection where we aren't allowed to fail, even when it's accidental. Maybe someone has been so hurt by someone else in the past that they watch you with ten magnifying glasses, hoping you mess up so they can feel vindicated for their feelings. It's nothing against you, but you represent the closest persona to that previous hurt... and so the anger they throw at you may be because you are that proxy to their true target.
All the more reason to not fake a good life, but to live an authentic one. By walking the walk you talk, maybe you can actually begin to redefine what it all means. In my buddy's case, he had the chance to better represent Christianity even though it had been grossly misrepresented by this other gentleman.
Sure, you'll make mistakes. But I've found that when I do it's better to tell someone who is quick to point them out, "Thank you for noticing that. I'm a work in progress, and I need people around me to help me catch stuff I'm missing. Since you caught that, would you help me grow in that area?"
I wonder... what if we weren't afraid to fail in front of others, but chose to let anyone who noticed to help us grow?
Case in point, my buddy began to speak up a bit when that customer would come in. Nothing overt or antagonistic, but nothing neutral either. And then one day - clear out of the blue - the guy came in to apologize. He said that God had been convicting Him of some things that he'd been doing wrong, and one of them involved the way he'd been treating the employees of that store. He asked for forgiveness, which not only spoke to my friend but to others he worked with.
The next time someone calls you out on something... will you be quick to defend and justify your "right" to be full of yourself? Or will you be humble enough to grow?
Maybe the reason people around you are the way they are... is because you're contributing to their attitude in more ways than you realize. And maybe by casting down your pride your might find a hand waiting to pull you up.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10)