If I’m totally honest though, when I’m engaged in conversations like this, so often I find myself downplaying my faith. “Yeah, I’m a Christian, but I’m not that type of Christian.” I fear that if I declare my faith too strongly, I’ll automatically be placed in a category with the gay-haters and Planned Parenthood picketers, therefore losing any real possibility of planting the seeds of relationship.
This isn’t limited to my faith either. I consistently find myself down playing almost every part of my identity for fear of the assumptions and stereotypes that go along with them. “I’m not that type of writer, artist, actor, boyfriend, health nut.” Take your pick.
“Tribes” is a word Seth Godin uses to describe these groups we place ourselves in. A tribe is any community of people, connected by a common interest. Grateful Dead fans, Starbuck drinkers, actors, Buddhist Warlords, you name it. We’re all part of a tribe. In fact, we’re all part of several tribes. The problem is, many of our tribes are so filled with black sheep that we’re actually ashamed to admit our membership for fear being associated or even equated with that person. The first thing people think of when they hear stockbroker today is Jordan Belfort. Not every stockbroker is Jordan Belfort. In fact, very few are. Unfortunately for them, this is the current image their tribe is synonymous with.
So here is my plea. It comes in two parts:
First, no matter what tribe you identify with, conduct yourself in such a way that the other members of your tribe would be proud to claim you. Representing your tribe well is the fastest way to create a better future for it.
Second, don’t be like me. Wear your faith, your artistry, or your job title with pride. Don’t let the fear of the assumptions of others stop you from proclaiming what you believe, think, or are inspired to do. Others may assume things about you. That’s fine. If they don’t stick around long enough to actually get to know you then they weren’t worth your time anyway, and if they do, then you might just prove their assumption wrong and change their worldview.
Don’t let shame shrink you. It doesn’t do you, others, or the world any good. I’m now dedicated to leaving shame behind, stepping out with boldness, and creating change for the future. Will you join me?
Follow jon on Twitter @jonjorgenson