Why Do We Care What Others Think?
The following was written by one of our elders and appeared in the September 2015 edition of The Wintonbury Connection.
Summer is over already. Hard to believe that the season of warmth, excessive sunshine, and outdoor activities in shorts is coming to a close. Kids are going back to school and the vacation season is closing up for those at work.
This year, God has been teaching me several new things. I love a good season of learning from the Lord but truthfully not until it’s over; after whatever challenges, lessons, struggles, etc. have passed and I can look back and see what the Lord was doing to move me along on my journey.
Through many changes in my work in the first half of this year, God has taught me a massive lesson in something I honestly never understood and really never thought I would learn. It comes to a question: Why do I care what others think?
Things at work changed this year becoming very uncomfortable and very difficult. Following a season of success and reward in 2014, I was unexpectedly thrust into a difficult, unrewarding role with a new boss who neither liked nor respected me.
From a boss who respected me to one who doesn’t and shows it - what a change. I found I cared very much about what my new boss thought of me. After all, he determines whether I have an income or not and I have 5 kids to support. But what I learned (the hard way) is that no matter what, I couldn’t make that happen.
Without getting into details, this was another great opportunity for me to see evidence of why and how I am not of this world but I live in it. How applicable Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:3 are in this realization. If I am to be who God wants me to be, there is no way I can be who those of this world want me to be.
Regardless of any circumstance and how uncomfortable and unfair the changes at work seemed to be, it got me right where God wanted me to be; on my face on the floor in prayer.
Very quickly God reminded me that I am EXACTLY where He wanted me to be; at work, at home, at church, all of it directly and specifically by His design. Wow, what a concept! So hard to accept as an independent American but it is so very true, again and again.
So, if I am exactly where God wants me to be and the situations, good or bad, are by His design, then there is nothing I can or should do to change it. All I can do is follow Him closely (meaning to surrender my concerns to Him, pray for guidance and support, just get out of the way and let Him lead) and see where He takes me.
This awesome learning experience led me to really considering the concept and looking all around for examples throughout each day where I am caring about what others think. Inevitably, I noticed how the media was working hard to solicit that emotion through the multitude of marketing messages; and then how those messages try to drive us to buy and act, which also influences me. Fortunately, I don’t have the money to act upon the ads and influence!
But I find it’s even more important how I let all of it affect my perspective and thoughts, even if I can’t afford the action. How I look, what I drive, how I dress, even the briefcase bag I carry – you’ve got to be kidding me? No wonder money makes people crazy!
Beyond the media, money and my response to it all, I also noticed how much I was thinking about how I was supposed to act as a Christian and as an Elder. Am I doing all that I can? Being who I am supposed to be? Who God wanted me to be? I got books and advice from Andre and the Elders. I read, prayed hard and often, and truly meditated on all of this.
So what did I learn?
Well, this concept is so fundamental. It’s something we hear a lot about. But it’s also one of the most common issues we have in the world today and it appears to impact almost everyone and in a thousand different ways. We truly shouldn’t care what others think. God tells us so in several ways, but we still do. So technically it’s a form of sin through selfishness and pride.
I haven’t found one single person that I know or interact with who completely doesn’t care what others think of them. We seem to be in different camps, some more on the self, some on the faith, some on the actions. There are some who seem to get far closer to this desired place than others and they are clearly well along in their walk with the Lord. Basically, we are all in some state or another of thinking about this challenging topic. At some point, in some circumstance or situation we all care about what someone thinks about us. If we stop and think about it, really look for it in what we do each day, we can see far too much of it.
This is simply exhausting. No matter what I do I can’t please everyone, nor do I want to. The only thing that I can do is the only thing that matters: Follow Jesus! So simple and yet always the only right answer.
What if I take all of the time I normally stop to think about what someone else may think about what I have, wear, look like, say or do and instead use that time to think what does God want me to do in this situation? If I make that my first thought and I act when the Holy Spirit prompts me to act then, and only then will I be thinking correctly.
It’s hard to do, especially when someone makes a derogatory remark or gives me a dirty look when my words or actions make it obvious that I am not conforming to the world. Or when I catch myself wanting something nice that someone else has. But at the same time it takes all the pressure off. I don’t have to stress over this, I am who God wants me to be.
I’m an ambassador of Jesus Christ, clothed in immense power! How could I want anything else?
Now I just have to keep at it, ask for God’s help every day in my prayers. Get face down on the floor each day, and when I forget, get back on the floor and pray, pray, pray. Act when the Holy Spirit wants me to act. Cast all of my cares on Him and let the stresses that weigh down those that conform to this world just melt away at the feet of my Almighty Savior. What a relief!
Does this get you thinking? I hope so. It makes a difference and it applies to all of us.
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