Going on a journey of self-discovery sounds selfish, if we’re honest with ourselves. In the church we talk about love and service and how we treat others, but we rarely talk about ourselves. We don’t talk about figuring out who you are, or identity, or self-confidence as much as we could, and I think that hole in our teaching is causing Christians to be rather unlikeable.
It’s a strange thing to admit the reputation we’ve earned as Christians, but I think we’d do well to look around and see how we’re known.
Recognizing our reputation is the first step to changing it.
We’re seen as judgmental sometimes, quarrelsome, pugnacious. We’re easily offended and impose our convictions on other people. We are the captains of unsolicited advice. It’s unfortunate that this has become our reputation, and certainly not all of us are like this, but if we look around I think we’ll realize, this is often how we come across.
For those of us who don’t think we’re that way, we’re guilty of getting angry at Christians we feel are perpetuating this reputation. We think to ourselves, “will you just be quiet?” or “let it go!” But I’ve had a change of heart recently where I’ve begun feeling sympathy for people who come across this way.
I think judgement is usually a manifestation of insecurity.
Think about it that way for a moment. What if the reason Christians came across as judgmental and imposing was because they felt shaky themselves?
It’s a theory worth considering, right?
We’re easier to provoke when we’re insecure, we’re more apt to fight for things we’re uncertain about ourselves. When you see someone who’s truly secure in themselves, you don’t often see them arguing, they’re able to rest in that confidence.
It’s difficult being a Christian. It’s hard to know what you believe, let alone live it out. It’s hard to live in a world that lives so differently than you want to live, and we’re all caught in this tension of freedom and not feeling free quite yet.
And that tension, that insecurity, often brings out the worst in us.
In the church we don’t often talk about finding ourselves. It’s a phrase left primarily to new-age, self-help books or sometimes someone having a mid-life crisis. But I think we should spend more time here.
I think if we spent more time discovering what we believe and why, who God is and what that means for us, we’d be a lot more likeable as Christians.
If we knew ourselves better it would…
1. Make us less defensive
If we felt confident in what we believe, and secure in it, I think we’d feel less fear of being wrong and, therefore, less pressure to convince other people of our rightness.
2. Help others come into their own
Security and confidence is contagious, and it results in peace. If we can figure out who we are and come to peace with that, we’ll spread peace to everyone who comes in contact with us.
3. Make us easier to connect to
When we know and are confident in who we are, we’re able to be vulnerable with each other without feeling like we’re losing something in the process.
The Christian stereotypes aren’t always favorable, but they’re also not permanent. By discovering who we are as individuals, what we believe and where we stand, we’re able to truly love people from a place of security, instead of out of a place of needing to be right.
photo: Ty Carlson, Creative Commons