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How to Overcome Perceptions

Ben Reed —  October 27, 2011 — 16 Comments

image credit: CreationSwap user Rich Aguilar

Just the other day, I had someone tell me that all of my posts on Facebook are about food and parenting. “You must really love your food…and your son!”

Well, she’s right about me loving my food…and my son.

But she’s wrong about all of my posts being about those two topics. And I could’ve corrected her, but thank you very much Dale Carnegie, I just smiled and continued the conversation. Correcting her would’ve done no good. Why?

Perception is everything.

People can perceive you to be all sorts of things that you’re not. I’ve been perceived

  • Naive
  • Un-thoughtful
  • Forgetful
  • Unwise
  • Small-minded
  • Forgetful
  • Lazy
  • Unmotivated
  • Wasteful
  • Greedy
  • Self-serving

And in each of those cases, I could verbally tell you why I’m not that. Explain to you how I’m not lazy. Map out for you how I’m really not small-minded. Draw a diagram on the back of a napkin to show you how I’m not self-serving.

And in each of those cases, I would watch you walk away shaking your head in disagreement, firmly planted and confirmed in your ideas about me.

Perceptions aren’t often logical. They’re feelings-based. And feelings-based ideas aren’t overcome by logic and reason. They’re overcome by another feeling.

Instead of telling you how I’m not lazy, I need to show you that I hustle every day.

Instead of telling you how I’m not forgetful, I need to remember your name.

Instead of telling you how I’m not greedy, I need to demonstrate for you generosity.

Instead of telling you that I’m not self-serving, I need to show you what it looks like to serve others.

Perceptions of the Church

I know that, because of what we’ve stood against and how we’ve lived in this world, others have certain perceptions of the Church. Certain perceptions that aren’t necessarily true. Perceptions that, because of our history, people have come to believe. They perceive that we’re

  • Naive
  • Small-minded
  • Bigots
  • Deceived
  • Foolish
  • Stubborn
  • Boring
  • Lazy
  • Uncaring
  • Weak

I’m ashamed of the perceptions that the Church has gained. And I could lay out for you how our church is different. I could logically walk you through what we do differently. But most of the time, that’s not going to work. Perceptions aren’t logical. They’re rooted in feelings and emotions.

So I’m just going to show you. I’m going to let you see the Church in action through me. I’m going to serve and love and give and go and never expect anything in return. I’m going to be the Church and live the Church. Instead of just talking, I’m going to serve. Instead of just debating, I’m going to love. Instead of arguing, I’m going to give.

That’s what the Church does.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – Jesus, from John 13:34-35

*Image credit: CreationSwap user Rich Aguilar 

 

 

 

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