Only God Can Label You

He was a quiet kid. Kept to himself. Freshman trumpet player in the university marching band. Away at band camp before school even started. Probably his first college experience.

We were in the same cabin. I was also a freshman, first experience away like that, percussionist. We shared the cabin with the drum major. Head guy.

He sensed a weakness, I guess. I only thanked God that it was the trumpeter he picked on. Labeled him a nerd. I guess that’s worse than geek. He was merciless the entire week. 

The trumpeter? He kept his head down and never said a word.

Labels that others give us can really hurt. They can also misdirect our lives.

Label someone as fat early in their life, and even though they may get fit as an adult, chances are they’ll always feel fat. It’s really hard to outgrow the hurts of adolescence.

I think it was third grade when they gave us some kind of intelligence test. I was clueless. All I know is that my parents got called to visit the teacher. When they came back, I had a label–smart. I’m still clueless. I’ve been trying to disprove that my entire life. <smiles> But that resulted in lectures every time I didn’t get straight As until dad gave up on me while I was in college. I never played the game to get a grade. I’d learn enough from the class and then go off and  study what I wanted to study. (And, yes, I did get a degree. The department shut down the graduate program before I finished my master’s work, and I never finished that. No need to have a paper.)

Yesterday I listened to Andy Stanley talk to a group of 8th graders about labels. He warned them about letting other people label you. What great advice!

We are children of God. That is the label God puts on us. We don’t need another. It’s hard to overcome a label that someone in authority puts on you–even if it’s just the drum major. 

By the way, I recommend listening to Stanley every week. I listen to Bill Hybels, John Ortberg, Gene Appel (when they load his talks into iTunes), Stanley every week. I also listen to technology news and other podcasts that broaden my experience. I recommend finding your favorites and listen to something daily for your growth.

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