Self Fulfilling Prophecy at Church ⚡️

By Michael Mooney, Exec. Elder

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a false definition of a situation that results in behavior that makes the prediction come true.

Here are a few examples:

* A pastor takes a position at a new church.  Soon he picks a person from the crowd that seems to conflict with his own personality. After a few interactions with them he loses objectivity and concludes that they are a “troublemaker”. In time he begins to view all of their motives and intentions in this light.  Even though the person may or may not have ever been a trouble maker, as far as the pastor is concerned they live up to his profile of them as trouble.

* A department or store manager believes that a new employee is lazy because they have trouble meeting the company’s dress code by tucking their shirt in, etc.  The manager makes it a point to never assign the new employee any tasks of responsibility.  In time the manager concludes that the employee is not “management material” because they are lazy and therefore not promotable.

Earl Nightingale:

“We tend to live up to our expectations.”

Claude M. Bristol:

“We usually get what we anticipate.”

Proverbs 23:7

For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he

As leaders we should never forget Jesus’ words, “all things, whatever you desire that men should do to you, do even so to them” (Mat 7:12 MKJV).  It seems safe to say that the overwhelming majority of men and women in the world do not want to be misjudged as troublemakers, lazy, or anything else of the like.  If they do not want to be treated this way, we probably do not what to be treated this way either.  Let us be careful about the negative expectations we place on others; because we just might get what we expect, and what we expect may never have been what we wanted.  However, there is a good side to all of this.  Self fulfilling prophecies may also produce good results.  Therefore, leaders should expect good things of people, we just might get what we expect!

4 thoughts on “Self Fulfilling Prophecy at Church ⚡️”

  1. Amen sister. Time for us to understand the only perfect one Is God. Only he can make his words to be true. As to 666 my last government computer was accounting number ending in 666. As an Associate Pastor and known outspoken Christian I was ask if I would take it. No issue gentlemen, He who is in me is greater than a number. I had no troubles with that computer for the years I had it. If we have not an open mind then the Holy Spirit has little to speak to us. We think we have learned when we have only begun, the earth is only kindergarten for Christians.

  2. I know the original post was posted a while ago, but since I just saw it…

    I think of these situations as examples of confirmation bias. You believe one thing, you make note of all the information that supports your belief (or that you interpret as supporting your belief) while ignoring information counter to your belief, and then believe there is overwhelming evidence that your belief is correct. Confirmation bias isn’t only applicable to people, but also objects and situations.

    While confirmation bias against people drives me crazy and is about as unChristlike as someone can be, there are a crazy number of “Christian” ideas that are only a thing because of confirmation bias as well. I have otherwise intelligent Christian friends who post things, especially on Facebook, along the lines of “this specific prayer has incredible healing power”, or “the number 666 shows up in this numerical thing and that proves that Satan is has infiltrated _____”.

    In the example of the healing prayer, someone may have said that specific prayer over sick people, and two or three times the person was healed. Very likely, though, there were times when they prayed the prayer and the person wasn’t healed. Instead of considering the times “it didn’t work” along with the times it did work when determining if there is something special about the prayer, they explain away the times it failed with things like “This prayer is powerful, but my heart didn’t have the right motivation,” or “The prayer works, but I didn’t have enough faith that God would do the healing.” They attribute the times the person was healed to having said this powerful prayer while they attribute the times the person wasn’t healed to their personal failings and thus risk leading Christians astray with this false, confirmation bias formed belief.

    When it comes to 666 or other similar things, you tend to only notice when 666 shows up, not how often it doesn’t show up. Imagine you have a thirty digit account number and three consecutive digits of that number are 666. It might seem like a big deal, but there is a 1/145 chance that any three numbers show up consecutively in a thirty digit number. You notice when 666 pops up, but you don’t notice when the other 144 options pop up. Is it really a sign that Satan has infiltrated your account or is it just one of the normal 1/145 times it pops up?

    The thing that upsets me the most, though, is confirmation bias when interpreting scripture. There are so many instances where people will quote certain verses to support their view, but the verse says nothing of the sort. A lot of these verses pop up when people try to defend their belief that it’s a sin to not attend church every Sunday. For example, a particularly egregious one is when people try to use Hebrews 10:24-25 (And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near) as proof that missing church is a sin. That verse only says that if you look at it through the lens of that particular confirmation bias. If one reads it just as it is, it has nothing to do with church as we know it. It has to do with interacting with other Christians who support your walk with Christ.

    Overcoming our confirmation biases, whether in judging people, signs, or scripture, requires lots of hard work and humility. As time goes on, I see banishing confirmation biases from my heart and mind as a critical part of my growth in Christian maturity.

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