Labels are on everything. They’re on clothing, furniture, food packages, medicine, cars, and buildings. Just about everything we encounter has a label of some form. At one level labels are a good thing. They identify things for us. They tells us where we are or what we are buying or eating or wearing or the proficiency of the person performing surgery on our body. So, labels can be good.
Labels can also be bad, especially when it comes to labeling people. Sometimes labels can be added with little to no substantive reason. They exist because someone attached it and for whatever reason, it stuck. Consider the example in John 9:1-3 with Jesus’ encounter with the blind man and his ensuing conversation with his disciples, As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The disciples jumped to a wrong conclusion based upon wrong presupposition. They assumed the worst.
Some labels come as a result of truth, others come as a result of error. Paul instructs Timothy “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Tim 4:12) In other words, “don’t let someone label you incorrectly.” Being a leader has side effects. One of the side effects of leading others, is that people will label you. Good or bad, like it or not, it will happen. You can’t change the fact that others will label you. What you can change is how they label you.
How would someone label you? Is that label accurate? Is that a label you should embrace or reject? If it’s not accurate or desired, what must you do to change it?