Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions Is the Fear of Man Preventing You From Reaching Out?

Is the Fear of Man Preventing You From Reaching Out?

After digesting the fact that some people think he’s Jeremiah reincarnated, he reframes the question. He throws out the polling data and just asks the guys directly what they think about him.

It is taken as a fundamental fact in our culture that everyone has a right to their opinion.

Maybe it’s true. But that doesn’t mean that everyone’s opinion matters.

Plenty of our opinions are based on emotions, on gossip, on misinformation, rather than facts or personal knowledge. I am no different. I am quick to form opinions based on a news blurb or a snippet from Twitter. No one is going to stop us from having those opinions. But that doesn’t mean they are good opinions or they matter.

When we are feeling ignored, misunderstood or judged, we have to ask ourselves if the people who are judging or ignoring or misunderstanding us even matter that much to us. How many peoples’ opinions have a real, appreciable effect on our lives? How many peoples’ expectations really have a tangible bearing on us? Does it matter if we disappoint or anger the hundreds of people out there who don’t really know us?

What Is Wrong With Being Misunderstood?

Jesus responds in another interesting way to all of this misinformation surrounding him.

He tells his disciples not to tell people who he is.  

He doesn’t want his disciples to try to sway public opinion. He actually wants to be misunderstood. He wants to defy people’s expectations. He wants people to not ”get” him.

Which begs the question in my mind: “Is being misunderstood really all that bad?” Is it really all that bad if people never “get” us? Is it so bad if people have lousy expectations of us, or they put false labels on us or put us into little categories we don’t belong in?

Isn’t it fun to surprise people sometimes? To defy their expectations? To show them you are so much more than they assumed? If people understand everything about you the first time you meet them, how can you ever surprise them?

I’m slowly recovering from my obsession with public opinion. But it’s an everyday struggle, I admit. I’m trying to embrace the element of surprise. I’m trying to free myself to just be myself.

What about you? Are you burdened by too many opinions or expectations? Have you felt misunderstood or judged unfairly? How did you deal with it?  

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Matt Appling is a teacher, pastor and author of TheChurchOfNoPeople.com and the book "Life After Art: What You Forgot About Life and Faith Since You Left the Art Room," released by Moody Publishers. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.