Here they are, straight off the bat:
1. Be nice to everyone. We love it when people become famous and they don’t appear to change. They retain that boy-or-girl-next-door way about themselves. They don’t favour some people at the expense of others. Being nice to everyone means you’ll give everyone equal attention, and not divert your attentions to just the popular and influential ones; the ‘important’ ones (because everyone is equally important). This means you’ll love everyone, which will be a choice, for some people you’ll find it hard to love. But most of all you won’t favour some and ignore others. Getting this right is harder than most of us think. We impress Jesus most when we favour the outlier, building broader inclusions than we allow exclusions.
2. Keep your promises. As Psalm 15:4 says, even when it hurts. Most significant promises hurt in the fulfilling. They cost us something. It’s easy to promise something and to think, “Nah, it doesn’t matter… no one will know if I fudge it here or there.” It’s countercultural to keep all our promises. We impress Jesus when we keep promises only He and we would know about.
3. Forgive. Yes, even Christians, sometimes especially Christians, don’t or can’t forgive. Being counter-cultural here is also being counter-human. No one likes to be betrayed, just as nobody likes having to do the difficult heart work of submitting our anger to God. In being countercultural around forgiveness we transcend the rhetoric, because we begin to live it, living in the power of the grace that lets others go free despite what they’ve done. We impress Jesus when we forgive people like the Father forgave us, in Christ.
4. Shun notoriety. In the social media age this is harder than ever, especially when we’ll rub up hard against the curation of image daily. Today image seems to be everything. So, shunning opportunities to self-promote is countercultural, which doesn’t mean it’s never a good idea to put ourselves out there. Sometimes it’s necessary, because it is God’s will, because we’re shining His light.
5. Pray. Most of us talk about prayer much more than we engage in it, or we like to think we engage in it more than we do. Again, it’s about integrity. There’s nothing legalistically set down around prayer, so why do we present the persona that prayer is central in our lives when it isn’t? But we’re better when we pray. And being prayerful is countercultural — many Christians don’t have daily, continual conversations with God. Yet Jesus would be impressed if we got to that spiritual place in life where we were continually mindful of His Presence in our lives.
Really, the only one who counts as far as impression is concerned is Jesus.
Impressing Jesus is centrally about integrity. An identity set in Christ is matched also to behaviour — integrity between the two.