Last year the University of San Diego did a study on the relationship between stereotypes and the way they make people behave. They found a little over 100 people to study. They all met at the mall and a few were shown a list of stereotypes about successful people and about their own race or category. Then they were set loose to be observed while they shopped. The point of the study was to see how stereotypes of successful people affected the behavior of people who did not feel successful.
Here are a few stereotypes about successful people listed by Forbes:
- risk takers
Stereotypes aren’t based on fact, they’re based on general public perception. Stereotypes are formed by people on the outside looking in. Sometimes they’re hurtful and most of the the time they’re wrong.
The study revealed something in human nature that we already know happens. People will compensate for their inadequacy by trying to behave like who they want to be. The only problem is, they are using a stereotype to base their behavior on. They fake it while they’re trying to make it, but the model is flawed. Those who really are successful can see through it and are frustrated that the stereotype is being perpetuated.
“Good” Christians have stereotypes, too.
- always happy
- hardly ever sin
- don’t have doubts
- don’t have the big problems
- don’t have questions
- an example of purity
But every single Christian on the planet knows that list isn’t true for them. Some think it should be, because they think it’s true for other people. They think it’s true for other people because other people want them to think it’s true. Everybody is looking at everybody else and nobody has a clue that nobody has a clue.
Marketers know how to take advantage of people who want to appear more successful. They jack up the prices because people with low-self esteem think that the more you pay for something, the more special it is and it makes them feel more special. They’re being gouged in a psychological game with the greatest tool being human lack of self-worth.
The people who stand to gain the most money when people try to buy their status will literally bank on the fact that even if they think they’re paying too much, people who want to prove their worth and identity will not speak up and blow their cover.
Satan knows how to take advantage of people who want to appear like a good Christian. He wants the stereotype perpetuated so that it gets so far from what Jesus even was that the real Christians look like heretics. The price on grace is jacked up so that people with low-spiritual self-esteem have something to earn that builds their confidence. The harder something is to maintain, the more meaningful it is, the closer to God they feel.
They’re being spiritually gouged with a psychological tool, playing on human nature to get the desired effect. The entity that stands to gain the most when people try to earn their good Christian standing will literally bank on the fact that even though most people know something isn’t right, they won’t speak up and blow their cover. They’ve seen how the proud treat the meek and they don’t want to be in that lot.
So, we have these loud, arrogant people trying to prove their success by being demanding jerks because they think that’s what successful people do. Yet, the whole time, they’re drowning in debt and getting further and further away from the security they’re trying to pretend they have. Then, we have this other group of people who try to fabricate masks of peace, joy, and righteousness with forced spirituality. The whole time, they’re drowning in their own lives, but can’t show it because they’re afraid people will know they don’t have it all together. They’re further and further away from who they think they should be. They only reveal half of their inner battle for self worth when they point out the flaws of others. The other half is hidden behind the mask. When someone points out the flaw of someone else, it’s the last half of a sentence that started with them noticing their own failures.
People are too afraid to say anything because they think they’re the only one. But, they’re not the only one. Everybody feels inadequate at times. That’s why communities of real, even broken, people are so refreshing and healing. We need more honesty and less of the stereotype.
Speak up, Pontius Pilate. You’re running out of soap.
So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus. -2 Timothy 1:8-10 MSG