We are taught from the time we are first walking and talking that the impressions we make on others is one of the most important intangible assets we have. Whether it be mom or dad or a teacher, we heard, “you only have one chance to make a first impression” and that first impression was worth a great deal. And that surely carries right into the workplace. From the first impression to obtain the job or to attain the promotion, we work to manage the impression that others have us. While on the surface, there is nothing wrong with that, and in fact, in the work world where we have counter forces working against to diminish the impression of us while others put themselves ahead, we have to somewhat manage the impression that others have of us. It would be naïve to think that in all cases that we can, without restraint, be ourselves. There are times for a more mature you than you might want to be and there are times for a more optimistic and cheerful you than what you feel at the moment. So, we all manage our impression. But, Paul says in Philippians 2:3 that we are to not be selfish; and we are not to live to make a good impression on others. I had to process this for awhile to understand what he was saying. Why wouldn’t it be right to try and give others a good impression of ourselves? Aren’t we more able to have a greater impact on others if their impression is favorable? At work, this always seemed to be true. We depend on a favorable of impression of ourselves preceding us when we walk into a meeting with others we don’t know that well. Certainly the opposite can be disastrous. So, how far are we off base if we try and create a positive impression? The key to what Paul was saying was the first part of the sentence when he said, “we are not to be selfish and not to live to try and make the best impression”. If we are selfish and we are living, or being all consumed and obsessed in the impression we make on others, then we are not being cognizant and considerate of others. It means we would be self-obsessed and that attitude is not what we are to possess. So, I take Paul to not not want us to make a good impression on others, but to do so in the spirit that will be one of concern to others and those around us, and let the good impression that we make from that spirit and attitude be the one that precedes us. If we start with being selfless and let ourselves flow from that place, then it would be hard to not make just a good impression, but the best of all impressions.
Reference: Philippians 2:3 (New Living Testament)