A few days ago a friend posted the following as his status update on Facebook; “People’s performance usually reflects the expectations of those they respect. – John Maxwell”
That quote stuck with me and got me to thinking about all the labels we put on people. I’m certainly guilty of labeling people, which is shameful since I know how it feels to be unfairly classified. Unless it details a calorie and ingredient breakdown, a label is rarely a good thing.
Then at church on Sunday Dale taught about the danger of labeling people. So, I thought I’d blog some of my thoughts on the topic.
One Sunday morning when Dallas was about four years old I went to pick him up from his class at church and the teacher met me at the door. “Dallas was very bad today.” She looked down at my son who was now standing at her side. “Tell your mommy how bad you were today.”
I wanted to punch that woman! You can tell me he misbehaved, you can tell me he was a bigger challenge than he normally was, but do NOT call my child “bad”. From that moment on, Dallas was “that kid” at church. You know the one—the child that all the Sunday school teachers warn the other leaders about. “Oh, Dallas is going to be in your class next year—he’s a handful.” My son was labeled.
The truth was, Dallas loved his teachers at church and he wanted to please them. Their expectations, however, were low. My son respected these people and his performance reflected their expectations.
Several years ago I sat across a tiny table at a Starbucks from a woman I loved and respected very much. I’d requested the meeting with Rhonda as our relationship was broken and I desired healing and wholeness. For the better part of an hour she spewed her accusations and venom at me. “You’re weak. You’re jealous. You’re not that good a friend.” Her reasons were flimsy at best, but the bottom line was – she’d labeled me and she refused to see me as anything other than the person she decided I was.
During Dale’s message on Sunday he held up signs with words written in big black letters—labels we put on people. Democrat. Liberal. Republican. Pro-choice. Pro-life. Homosexual. We practically stamp words on the forehead of people the very moment we meet them. Let’s try something new; let’s see people as God sees them—a target of HIS love and HIS grace.
Back at that Starbucks after Rhonda stamped me with all her labels I said, “If you saw me in that way, why didn’t you say something? I mean, I was your friend.” That’s when she said, “You were never that good a friend.” I replied, “I’m more—I’m a part of the family of God.” She said, “You just want to play the victim, and I won’t yield to your victim mentality.”
Isn’t it interesting how some Christians pick and choose what part of the scriptures they want to embrace? To their way of thinking it’s okay to use the Bible as a sword to stab and condemn others. But if you’re a Christian, you should also be willing to use the scriptures to sharpen you.
Desiring to be seen as a child of God does NOT make me a victim wannabe! I allowed myself to be influenced by the labels put on me by others. I did that because I loved and respected them and I trusted their friendship. I wrote this last week, and I’ll say it again, shame on me!
I AM a child of God and a target of His grace. THAT is the label I deserve. And by the way, that's the label my son deserves!