I can remember being a kid and asking how to get people to like me. The advice I got was always the same, whether I was talking about making friends, or getting a girl, or pursuing student government: “BE YOURSELF.” On the surface, this sounds like the right thing to say. Shoot, I’m sure I’ve said it too, but here are 5 reasons why it is bad advice:
- It’s a lazy answer. Advice should always be beneficial, and personal. For a person just to respond, “be yourself” can dismiss the opportunity to personally pour into a person and build a relationship. Instead of giving a text-book response, why not dig a little deeper and actually guide them to a more meaningful answer.
- We don’t really mean it. Once a child is old enough to go in public, we condition and socialize him or her to be acceptable. If a baby wanted to run through either church, or Wal-Mart, stark naked, we teach that child that it is unacceptable. We teach good manners, and set social boundaries. So to turn around and say, “be yourself,” is honestly sending a mixed signal. Because, for some, being oneself means being a jerk, and we don’t want that do we?
- Many people aren’t sure who they are; and I’m not talking about just children. Have you ever heard the old saying that God knows us better than we know ourselves? That is because we really don’t know ourselves very well. We are ever-changing people, who grow and mature (hopefully) everyday; becoming more like the person God intended for us to be. To tell a person who isn’t really sure about who they are to be yourself, may only add to their confusion.
- Hyper-individuality creates chaos. If everyone completely adhered to this belief system, we would all just do what is right in our own eyes; just like the Children of Israel in of the book of Judges (chapter 17:6 and 21:25). Being so focused on individual expression erodes the collective preservation and leads to a moral and social chaos.
- It’s okay if people don’t like you. Instead of giving advice about how to be liked or accepted, we could focus more on how to be confident and respected. Confidence and respect are built on certain absolutes, that can not be achieved by the over exertion of individuality. So then being consistent and true to those absolutes will certainly cause those without such resolve to dislike you, and that’s ok; as long as they continue to respect you. Because no one deserves to be disrespected.
I’m not saying that “be yourself” should never be spoken, but that advice should always be qualified. Romans 12:2 teaches us clearly not to be conformed to anything, but to be transformed into everything God intended for us to be, by continually renewing our minds. Follow THAT principle, be confident in God, and let the chips fall where they may.
© 2016 Derek J. Murphy Enterprises, and I AM KINGDOM Publishing, All Rights Reserved
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