There are a number of quotes in regards to first impressions, such as: “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” There are many versions of this quote, all signifying we are quick to judge others upon first contact. How often are we wrong? I would dare to wager quite often.
One example that comes to mind is persons with tattoos. Have you ever taken notice of a person with tattoos and came to an immediate conclusion of what kind of person they are?
Recently, remarks were relayed to me in regards to an officer’s multiple tattoos and how the department has really lowered its standards. The observer had concluded the officer’s professionalism must be sub-par at best, simply based on ink placed in his skin. They knew very little of this person’s character and beliefs yet formed an opinion based on a first glance.
I know this officer’s character and every other officer that has one or multiple tattoos in my department; they are second to none. Besides, would those tattoos prevent you from allowing them to keep you safe?
How about a man covered head to toe in dirt, torn clothing, asking you for food and lodging? Would you quickly extend your hospitality or press the gas pedal and scram? I believe many may want to do the former, but ultimately do the latter. The first glance would lead most to worry and fear the intentions of this dirty traveler. But may I remind you, this is exactly how Jesus arrived in many towns along his journey. There were not a lot of YMCA’s in that day for him to polish himself up before making an appearance. He showed up despite his appearance, ready to do what needed to be done and for whomever it was needed for.
According to John 13:4, this “dirt covered man” was also the first to perform a task for his disciples that many considered a servant’s detail. Jesus washed the feet of each of the 12 men that followed him without hesitation. There are many more examples of Jesus’ humbling chores. At first glance, Jesus was most likely looked down upon by many. It wasn’t until his identity was learned that many would change their opinions. Could that be too late? Perhaps a second glance is in order?
Instead of leaning on first glances alone, take time to get to know someone more before passing judgment on them. You may very well find yourself one day standing before a man telling you he is going to wash your feet. What will you tell him? First impressions are not always a fair assessment of one’s true character. Many things in a person’s day can cause them to not shine as brightly as they normally would. If you refuse consideration of this, you may very well miss out of meeting the most important person in your life.
I am sure if you look long into your own past, you will recall a number of times your first impression to others left much to be desired. Would you not wish for a second chance at a good impression? Should we not afford such generosity to others as well?
James Fansler is chief of police for the Town of Lake Placid. Email him at email@example.com.