This past week I worked at a conference hosting a booth with many of our books. People from all walks of life visited our table and it was interesting to see the different responses, especially to two of our books that are political in nature. One in particular, The Presidents and Their Faith, stimulated much talk on the faith of our current president, some harsh and some loving.
One gentleman approached the table and snidely said, “Well, well, the faith of the presidents. I want to know what you have to say about our present one.”
He picked up the book and began scanning the last chapter. His conservative dress, cropped hair and the sarcastic tone in his voice quickly told me what he believed.
I was a bit nervous – was this opinionated, loud-talking man going to make a scene? It was near the end of the conference and I was a bit “people-out”. I didn’t have it in me to politely listen and keep eye contact without rolling them.
He closed the book and the judgmental scowl on his face disappeared, “You know, I have a problem with anger. God’s really working on me with it.”
Within seconds he went from bitterness to humility. His critical words transformed into wisdom and love.
He began sharing how he’s doing a study on anger and how he believes many of the teenage runaways and drug problems are due to parents like him who respond to their kids’ quirks in anger or frustrated tones.
As he spoke I went from resisting him to receiving the message God gave him.
God spoke to me. I too had a judgmental spirit. I had jumped to label my new friend as small-minded with nothing to offer. In reality, he is a humble man, with an anger problem, who is proactively working with God on it and sharing his testimony to help others.
Later that night, my sister and I talked about this gentleman. His message had impacted us both. If I had of met him elsewhere, and based upon my premature judgments, I’d probably have mentioned something about being scheduled for an organ transplant and politely excuse myself the moment his banter began.
But…I would have missed God’s message – one I needed to hear.
Working behind a table kept me there that day but it made me wonder how many other stories and lessons I may have missed because I judged the person by first impressions. Being in the publishing business you would think that I’d know better than to judge a book by it’s cover.
Have you ever judged someone by first impressions only to discover a treasure inside them later?
Has God shown you any similar lessons that you’d like to share?