Who are You?
Where do our standards come from?
by Helen Levesley (revised, originally published in 2008)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To make us think about who sets our standards and if we are being fair to ourselves.
Preparation and materials
- You may wish to refer to the Sermon on the Mount, described in Mathew’s Gospel, in the 'Assembly', Step 6, but this is optional.
- Have available the song 'Go your own way' by Fleetwood Mac and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.
- I am going to describe three different people and I want you to listen carefully and decide which character is most like you.
- ’Miss or Mr Perfect’ Everything always has to be right. Your work is very neat – if you make a mistake, you start again. If something goes wrong, it upsets you, even if you can’t do anything about it.
- ‘Miss or Mr Please Everyone Else’ You are always conscious of what people think about you. You constantly wonder if people like you, if you have done the right thing and how people will react to you or judge you.
- ‘Miss or Mr I Cannot Believe I Got it Wrong’ You sit awake at night and worry about all the mistakes you have made. You go over what you should have done in that situation, worrying that you got it wrong.
- Most of us will be able to identify with at least one of these characters and maybe some of us feel like we are quite like all of them!
- What makes us like these people?
Is it pressure from those around us? Is it outside influences, such as celebrities and other role models?
Do we look at magazines to see what clothes we should be wearing, what hair or make-up products we should be using, what foods to eat or what diet we should be on?
- Another pressure that we feel is the pressure to do well. All of us feel this at some point in our lives. It may be the pressure of schoolwork, exams or competitions or leagues in sport . . . These pressures may be slightly different as you become an adult, but the pressures are still there. What job should we take? Where shall we live? . . .
- When we pause to think for a moment, though, we realize that the only person putting pressure on ourselves is actually ourselves! The little voice in the back of our heads that points out we did something wrong or said the wrong thing or didn’t answer the question correctly. Sometimes we need to learn to quieten the voice inside us that always tells us we are not good enough, clever enough or liked enough. We need to learn to be happy with who we are, not with what other people wish to make us.
- Christians believe that the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) is a series of reflections on the qualities that make people good. In this passage, Jesus says that we can be like salt and light. We can make the world ‘taste’ better and we can brighten people’s lives, helping them find their way.
Sometimes the hardest person to please is yourself!
Time for reflection
Let's all pause for a moment and think about the following questions.
Do we always want to please other people?
Do we do things that we know are wrong simply to be part of the crowd?
Are there changes we need to make so that we can feel comfortable on the inside?
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. (Reinhold Niebuhr)
'Go your own way' by Fleetwood Mac