About two months ago, I took an amazing group of ladies through "So Long Insecurity" by Beth Moore. We used the online discussion questions found on her blog to guide us through the chapters of the book. One particular day, our discussion turned to labeling people - depersonalizing them by giving them a title, rather than a real person identity. It was....ummmm....TOE-STOMPING to say the least. I was mortified (that's the strongest word I can think of right now) over how I depersonalize people over petty things, like how they dress, how they hold their posture, whether they come to church (or don't), education (or lack thereof). I know of another word that turns into depersonalizing another...JUDGMENT. As I studied to teach this particular day, my oldest daughter was telling me how kids at school had been coming up to her - kids she did not even know - and laughed at her and called her a "goody, goody" because she is a Pastor's Kid. Most of the kids I could forgive because they are not in relationship with Christ. I don't expect those walking in darkness to live like they are walking in the LIGHT, but it's the Christ-followers that I admittedly had problem forgiving. I caught myself depersonalizing the children that depersonalized MY child! It was becoming a vicious cycle, really! The Mama bear in me wanted to yank them by the scalp and give 'em a piece of my mind for labeling my child before knowing her! Then, that still, quiet voice pops in and I'm mortified! Mortified that I am depersonalizing people everyday without taking time to get to know them...to really know what they are going through. I wish I could say that I've become a success at seeing everyone for who they are, but I'm not there yet. I still react in my flesh. I still rush through life so fast that I don't take time to really listen.
Admittedly, I've experienced the receiving end of labels often in ministry. I, too, as a pastor's kid received labels..."You should know the right answer...you're the preacher's kid." "You shouldn't let anyone see you do that...you're the preacher's kid." As an adult, I've more than received them. "You shouldn't say what you really think. You're a Pastor's wife." "I can't believe that you listen to Bon Jovi...You're a Pastor's wife." (True statement!) While this bothers me to have my life singled out as though I'm superwoman, a non-human, I'm more disgusted when I see/hear the same things coming out of my life/mouth. So, the statement we've often made so cliché really ought to hold some truth...we've gotta begin to "see people as Jesus sees them." Rather one is in ministry publicly or not, we ALL...and let me say that again...we ALL have a ministry! We all put our church clothes on everyday and influence someone's life. While it's easier to point a finger at a pastor or a pastor's wife and say, "You shouldn't" this or that, pluck the log out of your own eye and see that the same things we say "you should not" to are true of each of our lives. Someone is always watching, always critiquing. Start seeing people how Jesus sees them. After all, "We’re the clay and you’re our potter: All of us are what you made us.Isaiah 64:8 MSG.
None of us have arrived! I remove labels off of cans to send in with my daughters to school for rewards for their class. It's time I, and the rest of us, begin to remove them off the faces and lives of real, life people. It's time to reap the rewards of knowing a person for whom God created them to really be!