Heathdale flower 23rd February 2024

The First Impression Principle

Executive Principal Ross Grace leads us through the importance of understanding and embracing how a true Biblical image of God shapes our interactions and worldview, particularly in how we perceive and relate to God, as exemplified by King David's analogy of God as a loving Shepherd.

Heathdale flower

You may be familiar with the saying, “First impressions are lasting impressions.” This saying captures the thought that we form beliefs about a person upon meeting them for the first time. This initial impression then influences and shapes how people may interact with each other moving forward.

There are times that our first impressions of someone can be spot on, but on other occasions, as you get to know the person, your internal perception of them changes and consequently your interactions with them change.

I was reminded of this context recently as I was reading a Bible scholar’s reflection on Psalm 23 and he posed the question, “Why did King David choose to think of God as his Shepherd?”

A great question. It made me think of the first impressions principle; the picture we carry in our hearts of a person is the one we relate to. This is true for King David. The picture he had of God deep within his heart is the one he related to when he found himself in particular troubling and challenging situations.

In answering his question, the Bible scholar went on to say, “We will interpret every event in our lives in accordance with the inner picture we hold.”

A close friend of mine, David, who is a Minister/Pastor in a large Church across town, was telling me one day that when talking to people about a particular circumstance they are in, one of the questions he will often pose is, ‘describe to me your primary picture of God?’ He has said that often their response doesn’t reflect the one King David is describing in Psalm 23, of a loving Shepherd but rather they see God as austere, stern judge who delights in pronouncing judgement upon you. How sad that deep within their heart these people are unable to see God as He is described in the Bible.

A search of the Bible helps us to see God as He truly is and two of the most common images are as a Shepherd (Psalm 23, which says “the Lord is my Shepherd and I shall want for nothing.”) and as a Father (Matthew 6:9-13, which contains the other well know passage of scripture, the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father who is in Heaven..”)

What picture of God do you carry deep within your heart? Is your primary view of Him a severe judge, a distant being, someone who is not relevant for today’s world – or someone who loves you immeasurably, someone who knows you intimately?

The image that we carry deep within our heart is the one you will relate to particular in a challenging difficult moment.

The prayer of the Heathale Staff and I is that as we spend time with the students who have been placed in our care every day, we are able to speak words of truth and life as well as act in a way that reflects a true Biblical description of God: that He cares for us as deeply, as a Shepherd and a Father.

This will be the image that our students are able to hold on to. This is not only their first impression of God, but a lasting impression of Him.