From The Kitchen Window - Impressions
Words by David Hollows
The mustard seed is tiny – between one and two millimeters in size. We would hardly notice it because it is so small but incredibly it can grow into a huge plant between eight and twelve feet high.
So, first impressions of these small seed are deceptive.
Never judge a book by its cover.
Are first impressions really all that important? Experience tells us that our initial impressions change over time, certainly as we get to know another person.
In schools, older pupils are taught that in the world of business, first impressions matter; that within the first 30 seconds of an interview, most of the panel will already have made up their minds about you as a candidate because of the way you enter the room, your appearance and dress code, your manner, your eye contact, the way you speak and your body language, even the way you sit in the chair.
We may all remember when we have dressed to impress, especially when trying to attract the person of the opposite sex for a dalliance. Many of us will remember the days of the Sunday-best and perhaps still adhere to this dress code. We may even dress-up to give the right impression (as we perceive it) when buying (or selling) a house, a car or an item of furniture from a more select store.
The way we impress others for many is important and we do this in a variety of ways: the way we dress, the way we speak, the way we laugh, our presentation, for example, hair style and colour. Also, the way in which we treat people; overly polite, fawning over those we wish to impress or talking about our education, our career success, our holidays and hobbies. All form a bundle of impressions which may or may not succeed.
The example of the mustard seed encourages us to look at things differently. You may or may not be an avid fan of impressionist paintings but at least you are challenged to make a judgement, one way or the other.
Impressions lead us to the point where we make judgements.
So which criteria do you use when meeting someone for the first time? What type of impressions stay with you after meeting a person or experiencing a new situation?
How do you reach a point where you evaluate the impressions you have made? Similarly, which impressions do you leave behind concerning yourself. If you have been in a situation where you have deliberately tried to make an impression, how did you rate your level of success?
Do you make a habit of consciously deciding that you need to make an impression?
In the case of Mother Theresa and Ghandi, the impressions of these two world famous people were not related to their appearance rather their impressiveness was due to their acts, their words and their lifestyles. Captain Sir Tom Moore left a massive impression on the nation during the pandemic for a variety of reasons such as his determination, his selfless attitude and his ability to be a fantastic role model in difficult times.
Photo by Siora Photography via Unsplash
In the Bible there are many examples where impressions are important. The issue of child-bearing was an important one in Bible times and the impression was that if a woman did not have children then she was not blessed by God. This situation for women such as Sarah (Genesis chapter 21) Hannah (1 Samuel chapter1) Rachel (Genesis chapter 30) and Elizabeth (Luke chapter 1) was mitigated when God bless them with children who would become significant heroes in God’s plan.
God instructed Samuel not to be impressed by physique, good-looks, intelligence when Samuel inspected the sons of Jesse rather Samuel had to ‘look at the heart’ when selecting David as the next king (1 Samuel chapter 16).
Of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin gained the impression of being the least and smallest. Yet from this tribe God chose Saul to be king (1 Samuel chapter 9) and Paul to be the evangelist missionary (Romans chapter 11) Similarly, Gideon was the least in his family which was the poorest in the Manasseh tribe yet Gideon was chosen by God to be a ‘mighty man of valour’ (judges chapter 15).
The impression the Egyptians and the communities of Canaan had of the God of Israel was formulated by the pillar of cloud by day and that of fire at night (Exodus chapter 13) as well as the mountain top clouds which descended when God met with Moses (Exodus chapter 20).
The impression people gained of Jesus was not due to his outward appearance (Isaiah chapter 53) but by His lifestyle: the many healings (John chapter 11) the feedings of the multitudes (Mark chapter 6) and His words (John chapter 19).
Unlike John the Baptist, whose appearance was very impressive (Mark chapter 1) Paul was impressive by his personality and writings not by his appearance (2 Corinthians chapter 10).
People such as Mary made impression by her act of anointing Jesus with perfume (John chapter 12) as was Esther and her bravery when approaching the King to save her people (Esther chapter 5).
We live in a world that is impressed by size and success and it is easy for churches to be sucked into this kind of thinking. There is nothing wrong with size and success, but the church needs to remember that we serve a God who does miracles and does not rely on impressions.
As believers and people of faith it is important that our lifestyles, words, attitudes and actions leave the right impression because all of these reflect our God. If the impression we leave is one that discourages others to discover more of a relationship with the God we represent, then we must consciously consider the impressions we leave.
So, what are your impressions?
You may find the following prayer helpful:
Generous God, you love me ‘just as I am’; no preconditions, no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, no ‘let’s wait and see’. You see behind the impressions I create and you see direct to my heart, my attitudes and responses. Yet, you still want a loving relationship with me so that I can be your hands and feet, to voice your message of truth and love and to be your ambassador in the world where you have placed me. So, in losing what I thought I was, I find myself, and what you call me yet to be. God, do with me as you will that I may reflect you through my life.
God bless you