For the record, I am bald, I laugh a lot and I am loud. Based on my neighbor’s responses, I am not what they expect when I tell them I am a pastor.
They misjudge me, I don’t know what they expect but I guess their vision of a pastor is not me. That’s ok, it doesn’t bother me. Mostly because they seem glad, I am the way I am and not what they expected.
Which is odd because most of them don’t go to church so I don’t know what they expect a pastor to be like when they haven’t really been around one.
Other times being misjudged is not ok. The biggest problem with being misjudged is the fact that you are being judged in the first place. Not sure too many people enjoy that.
On top of being judged, when they get it wrong and think worse of you or underestimate you it’s particularly vexing. (Not too long ago we had a message about what to do when you get angry…You can watch it if you missed it).
It could be the reason you are misjudged is because the person doing the judging is angry and it doesn’t really have anything to do with you.
Another side effect of being misjudged is anxiety and worry. Worried about what other people think it can start to gnaw on our identity.
We talked about the recently as well, that life can look different than being anxious and worried.
So often, our anxiousness is driven by pain. Mental, relational, or physical pain from being misunderstood can be a powerful force in creating or sustaining anxiety.
We are all desperate to be noticed, to be seen to be appreciated and when this drive is combined with being misunderstood or misjudged it creates a powerful combination of anger, anxiety, and frustration.
By the way, this is why many people do things that are so hard to understand from the outside. Desperate for being noticed and having a sense of belonging people will attempt any number of drastic actions to find a sense of wholeness.
This is part of the reason so many are quick to rush into sexual immorality, gender switching, animal-based identities and a host of other hard to explain choices. Misjudged, anxious, and angry because they can’t find love and acceptance, in desperation they are willing to try just about anything to find it.
That is a deeper discussion for another time.
What about when you feel misjudged and misunderstood? There is a temptation to either jump up and down and demand people understand you or to quietly walk away. I’m not sure either is a good option.
Here are a couple of options Jesus modeled.
Relentless Focus – If you are a follower of Jesus you need to keep focused. He has a purpose and a mission for you. You can’t allow the fact that some people don’t understand to draw you away.
People misunderstood and misjudged Jesus (You probably did too at one time). If they didn’t get Jesus, of course their will be times they don’t get you.
Don’t get distracted but don’t become calloused either.
Give Respect but Don’t Give In – Giving respect is all about staying compassionate and patient with those who don’t understand, agree with, or see you accurately.
They may get angry…you don’t have too. They may insult you…you can bless them. They may ignore you…you can love them anyway.
Don’t give in. Did your mom ever tell you don’t stoop to their level? That is the idea. Misunderstood people are often cast aside, silenced, or criticized. Don’t respond the same way, don’t give in.
Clarify Don’t Defend.
It is tempting to defend yourself. It is so clear in your heart and mind where you are coming from, why it is best, and how it would help everyone if they would listen to you….it is so tempting.
Just explain it well and they will suddenly see the light, agree with you, and thank you.
Well, no. Not usually. Debates rarely turn into change and arguing makes everything worse.
It doesn’t mean you should say nothing!
Clarify instead. In simple words, without hostility or defensiveness, let the people who misjudge you know what you are and why you do what you do and then be quiet.
If you are living in a way that makes a difference some people won’t understand. That’s ok. Respond by staying focused, giving respect, and clarifying. It may give them a chance to reconsider, or they may not.
Either way it is a much better response than defend or ghosting.
Hard truth. If you live a life based on following Jesus you will stick out and be misunderstood and misjudged. It will happen.
Your reaction to being misjudged is important. Your reaction is either a distracting people from Jesus or attracting people to Jesus.
Your life is much more beautiful when you are attractive!
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