First impressions are important, that they occur is understandable and a reality, and they are often wrong. How should we handle them?
As much as possible, I want people to form a correct impression of me. I can best help that by being myself, including through my messaging—social media, spoken words, editorials, body-language. It needs to align with who I am and what I believe in. Beyond that, there’s not a lot we can do about the first impressions others place upon us.
One has the most control of first impressions that they formulate about others. From this vantage point, it’s best if we can find the opportunity to meet the person on whom we hold an impression, or if we saw them just once, to see them again, and to talk, therefore determining the accuracy of our impression. If that’s not possible, and it often isn’t, try keeping first impressions to yourself as they are often wrong. And, just be gracious.
Wow, Jesus was gracious with his twelve disciples, though some of them gave a poor first impression, then they proved its accuracy! Jesus extended grace to these guys who were impulsive, stubborn, aggressive, and self-centered, teaching them to be gracious, to serve, and to be open to God’s counsel and power. Read the book of Acts in the Bible to see if it worked.
I admit, the first impression I formed for the group, or the guy, behind the Freethinker billboards, was not positive. How dare they put up messages like that along the busiest streets of Sioux Falls, South Dakota—not the Bible-belt, but pretty clean, and Christian! In fact, I found out the guy behind the billboards was Dale Hemming. I emailed to an address on the website, explaining who I was and that I would like to have a meal with them. Dale replied, surprised and skeptical of who this was on the other end; he didn’t often receive these kinds of messages. We had a meal, and while I found Dale to be opposite of me on a big thing—belief in God, he had a big heart.
Tune in to the Hopefully Divided podcast on June 19! You can hear from Dale Hemming, the man behind the billboards, you know, the ones which maybe make you cringe, depending on who you are.
Thought questions: What first impressions that involved you were off a ways, whether you were on the giving or receiving end? How do you handle first impressions?