Not Called to Impress

Vanessa Luu

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 11, 2024
Not Called to Impress

... Jesus never told us that our love had to be received, just freely given.

God never called anyone to impress. He calls us to love Him and others. I entangled impressing others with being effective in carrying the gospel. I was told no one would listen to what I had to say unless they liked me first. Have you been told that, too?

While reading through the Gospel of John, again, I was reminded of the reality that some will receive and believe the truth, and some won't. In my mind, I translated that to mean some will like what you have to say and some won't, but it relied on my ability to impress them with my light.

This distinction between impressing and loving others has felt groundbreaking. The daily practice of this reminder has brought me freedom. Knowing that people don't have to like or approve of me takes off a lot of pressure. Choosing to love others no matter how they treat me or what they think of me brings me peace and satisfaction. The energy used to make a good impression is far more than we have to give, especially when that effort is not reciprocated.

I have recently been implementing this exercise when (I perceive) people see me incorrectly. As soon as I notice my thoughts turning negative, the Holy Spirit reminds me I don't want to go that way, and I stop. Then I speak to myself (most of the time under my breath): I am not called to impress them, only to love them (I may add on, Even if they don't receive my love, I will love them anyway.) It's really made a difference in my day. It stops me from spiraling into shame, anger, or sadness. I may still experience those feelings momentarily, but they don't stick around. Better yet, it takes the focus off of me and puts it back on Christ, where it should be!


Christ modeled perfect humility and love. He knew that only God's words mattered, which is also true in our lives. On some level, we agree that only God's opinion matters, but how often do we get hurt by the opinions or even the supposed opinions of others?

We want to make an impact in this world, and we have been told that to do that, we need to be likable. Jesus was likable, but only by some, and this fact is one we should focus on. It helps us to keep our expectations and outcomes out of our hands and in the hands of God.

When you read the gospels, you see the love that Jesus' disciples have for Him, but you also see the intense hatred and anger towards Jesus even though He never hurt anyone. He only brought truth and love; the painful truth of that statement is that both hurt. Think about it. When the truth serves you, it's great, but when the truth reveals that repentance must be made, it doesn't feel so good.


Our society has an extremely low tolerance for truth and doesn't even know what love is. Jesus, God in the flesh, epitomizes both truth and love perfectly. He even identifies Himself as "...the way and the truth and the life. ... No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). So, it's no wonder that our world does so poorly with truth and love. To live in truth and love, one must spend time with Jesus, but everyone is too busy for that.

The foolish behavior of society is nothing new. Since God created the world, people have been turning to their own ways, deceiving themselves into thinking they don't need God or can find a way to outsmart Him. They believe their ways are better than His when nothing could be further than the truth, and they show this through their actions. They live to serve selfish desires; their love is no more than a four-letter word.

In short, our world needs a lot of prayer. Those who make time to spend with Jesus, knowing that He is the source of all things, and know what His love looks like, can practice it well when we remove the pressure of impressing everyone. When we entangle being liked or tie expectations to being loving (like I did), we create a problem for ourselves. We feel ineffective when our love is not received, which is very discouraging, but Jesus never told us that our love had to be received, just freely given.

"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8 [NAS]). Jesus empowered these men to do what He did and still empowers us today. We have received God's gift of perfect love, so we can freely give it without worrying if it will be reciprocated. The love we have comes from God Himself!


If you're anything like me, you have tied value to productivity. Productivity is the primary way we attempt to impress others. We keep ourselves busy so that we can at least convince ourselves that we add value to this life and the human experience. This morning, I felt irritated because I had been awake for forty-five minutes and had accomplished nothing noteworthy. I was huffing out frustrated puffs of air while my insides churned with the desire to move fast to make up the precious time, but then a gentle reminder came: This frustration stems from a thought process that you no longer abide by. Your productivity doesn't make you valuable; Jesus does.

I find satisfaction on an incredibly productive day, but I need to be careful with that. Instead of puffing out my chest and thinking, look what I did, I purposefully praise God for what He did with this day, allowing me be a part of it. If you look closely, Jesus was a pro at shifting all that glory to God when He was praised. Nothing we do is of our own strength, even if we reject Jesus and want no part of Him in our lives. God will always be the Creator of every living thing, so whether our deeds are in God's will or out of them, He still enables us to do what we do.

We have a perfect example here of glorifying God from none other than our perfect Jesus:

"Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began." John 17:1-4 

Every time I read a story where Jesus glorifies God, it impacts me. If our perfect Jesus can humble Himself and turn all praise to God, then my desire to impress should be extinguished. I could never do anything more impressive than God anyway. That's not to say that God won't use me to do impressive things, but all the glory for what is accomplished will shine on Him. 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/champc

Vanessa Luu is a wife, mother, and faith-based writer. She speaks and writes to believers to encourage them to live authentically with God.