Do You Want To Have Credibility and Influence?
Reputation is everything! When you have a good reputation people can feel that you have real credibility. This doesn’t mean that the views you hold will always be agreed upon, but if you show yourself to have a good reputation, even your opponents will have a respect for you.
A good reputation is synonymous with distinction, esteem, honor, and recognition. These are qualities desperately needed in our public square today. Christians, especially, should be those of the highest reputation.
Proverbs 22:1, echoed in Ecclesiastes 7:1, is the standard Scripture to encourage us to having the best reputation. Here is what is says in the New Living Translation. “Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.” Did you catch that? A good reputation is better than material wealth.
For me the most important word in the above Scripture is “choose”. This means I make a decision to have a good reputation. When you consider the choice here between do you want a good reputation or great riches, I am sure a lot of people would choose the riches. Why would you turn down wealth, just so people think better of you? But as we will see God is much more concerned with the type of person you are than almost anything else.
One of our goals should be to live out our faith in such a way, that non believers would want that for themselves. This is called the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus implores all of us disciples to make other disciples. We can’t influence the unbelieving world if we are full of hypocrisy, which ultimately is what a bad reputation looks like.
In the landmark book Unchristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, they interviewed Americans sixteen to twenty nine about their perceptions of Christians. From the inside flap of the book the authors write, “the research shows that Christians are best known for what they are against. They are perceived as being judgmental, antihomosexual, and too political. And young people are quick to point out they believe that Christianity is no longer as Jesus intended. It is unchristian.”
Kinnaman and Lyons go on to say, “what Christians believe may not be popular, but Paul also advised the first believers to ‘live wisely among those who are not Christians.’” (Colossians 4:5).
I have been reading the Old Testament prophets a lot recently, and it is striking how all of them are constantly warning their fellow Jews to live rightly. They often talk about the inconsistency with which the Jews would keep up their religious obligations of Temple sacrifice, but that their hearts and actions showed they didn’t really believe what they were doing. This caused the nation of Israel ultimately to be led into captivity because of their sinful ways. Over and over God was pleading with His people to do the right thing.
So what does a good reputation look like? I suggest the following:
· Consistency – your actions are exactly what you say
· Reliability – people can always count on you
· Principled – you have convictions that you don’t compromise
· Trustworthy – you can be believed
I am sure there are many others, but this is a good starting place to test your life to see if you have a good reputation.
Us Christians need to exemplify a good reputation in every sphere of our lives. Are we consistent, reliable, principled, and trustworthy in our jobs or in our business if we are the boss? Are we of good reputation in our church life? Especially are we consistent, reliable, principled, and trustworthy in our homes and family. Nothing is worse for spouses and children, than when husbands or wives live out a worthy life publicly, but in the home they are anything but!
When I worked as a management trainer for a major utility in Arizona, I worked with a guy who was an agnostic. In our discussions, he learned I was a committed follower of Jesus. Over the course of years that we worked together, he would constantly ask me what a “born again” Christian would think about such and such issue. We disagreed often, but when I left the utility to go into the ministry, this guy told me that I lived out everything I believed. That was and is the ultimate compliment!
I know believers whose lives are so inconsistent, that they have no credibility with me and others. This is tragic and I am sure must break the Father’s heart!
May God help us all to desire and choose to be people of good reputation. This will make our influence such that unbelievers will say, “I want that Jesus.”