Wednesdays with Jillene: more than a first impression

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

I can’t remember when I first began caring about making first impressions. At what point in a person’s life do we make that extra effort to present our best self in an initial meeting?

I watch my girls at the playground. They run right up to other kids with not a care on their minds, strike up a conversation and continue as fast friends with other small people they just met seconds prior. If it wasn’t for the fact that they rarely learn each other’s names you’d almost think they’d known one another their whole little lives.

When does that change? When does making a good first impression become an intentional, planned, scripted action? When does that first impression become more important than the everyday impact we leave on those around us?

Doing a quick image search for quotes about making an impression brought up a TON of thoughts on the importance of the impressions we leave on people we encounter.

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Ever think about how many times we have the chance to make a first impression? I started to make a list… it was seemingly endless. We meet new people all the time, in big and seemingly little encounters. The business world has a lot to say about first impressions and their importance to customer acquisitions. And, for real, that often makes me angry. Why? Because way too many businesses are set up pursue an initial customer and not enough care about maintaining good relationships with current customers.

We all know you can shop around for insurance rates that will start out really low at some companies and then creep up the longer you’re with them. What about new phone/data deals being advertised but are only available to new customers, current customers are out of luck? What about companies that incentivize you to refer a new customer but offer no rewards for your years of loyal patronage?

And, as much as that irritates me in the business world, what gets me even more is that we can adopt those same bad practices in daily living. When we care more about creating a good first impression than we do on our daily impression it does two things that have me thinking hard tonight.

1- It sets up unreasonable expectations/unreachable standards

See, we create this false self who’s main objective is to impress, in all the best possible ways, of course. We have good eye contact, say all the right/well thought out things, we actively listen and attentively respond to the needs of others. But what happens when that self we portray is so very different from our regular, every day living? We’ve presented ourselves in a way we cannot live up to on a daily basis. We’ve set the bar higher than we can possibly reach.

2- It becomes easier to keep people at arms reach than to let them in close

We do our best to create and control first impressions. Our hard fought efforts create a facade that doesn’t allow us to really let people in because if we did then they would see beyond the smoke and mirrors. That isn’t real relationship; that doesn’t leave a lasting impact on either party.

We were made for more than first impressions. We were made for lasting life impact.

The message paraphrases Romans 12:1-2 this way:

 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

And it was that first part that really hits me hard, “take your everyday, ordinary life…” God helping you… in the everyday… in the mundane, ordinary… to live for God, to offer that to God. Not just your one time, have it all together, first impression, Sunday best but your everyday, ordinary life. 

Romans 12 keeps pushing in deeper from there:

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Don’t pretend… love with genuine affection… never be lazy… always be eager… step-by-step through that passage I’m challenged by the practical, everyday ways that we are called to live as faithful followers of Christ.

Real faith lived out in real life goes well beyond first impressions. My heart is challenged to look hard at my own living to see beyond first impressions. I’m going to be spending some time in Romans 12 over the coming days, letting the Word speak truth in my mind and actions as I seek to live for more than first impressions but for lasting life impact.

How about you? What scripture is God using to guide and direct your daily living? Share so we can be encouraged in our walk with the Lord and support you in prayer today.

~Jillene

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