Looking The Part Could Be More Important Than You Think

Could it be that people judge musicians by how they look and act, indifferent to their musical skill or playing level?

One study I read about in Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s book, The Formula, says so.

Three groups of people were asked to judge the musical abilities of various award-winning artists and predict the winner. The first group listened to the audio. The second group listened and watched. A third group, oddly, only watched. That group was judging musical ability without hearing a note. The fascinating outcome was that the third group more accurately chose the actual winner from all the potentials by watching only.

That study has obvious implications for how each one of us can succeed in life.

  • Dressing the part for your work – I have found that I have a different mindset on the days I dress up a bit for regular work or ministry.
  • Acting your part in your marriage – Little actions increase the heart of marriage. Serving one another, opening the door, and picking things up can remind you that your spouse is important.
  • Living enthusiastically – An optimistic, enthusiastic attitude keeps your mind focused and gives momentum.

I also began reflecting on how this parallels in Scripture:

  • Ephesians 5:1 – Be imitators of God.
  • Ephesians 6:13-17 – Put on the full armor of God.
  • Colossians 3:12 – Clothe yourself with humility and compassion.
  • Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine.

I don’t want to diminish the idea that Jesus is the only one who can transform us from the inside out by his grace, and we don’t want to fake people out. But it’s undeniable that we’re called to take action and dress the part.

I remember an anecdotal story about Alexander the Great, whose armies conquered the whole ancient world. On one occasion, a young soldier became so paralyzed with fear that he fled the battle scene in a cowardly act of retreat. When the battle was over, he was arrested and brought before Alexander the Great himself. You can imagine the terror, embarrassment, and shame this young fellow felt when he was escorted into the tent of Alexander the Great. Alexander looked at the soldier and said, “Son, what is your name?” The boy replied, “My name is Alexander.” Alexander the Great said, “Well, son, either change your conduct or change your name.”

This is along the lines of Paul encouraging young Christians to live the part: “As a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)

Looking the part is especially important in our witness. It tells a story. It tells others we are taking our role in life seriously. It sets an example for family and friends. It goes before us in setting the tone for how others will respond.

In addition to all that, it may well be the witness to God’s love and faithfulness that someone needs to see.

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