What is your reputation?

B. Keith Chapman, President & CEO


Throughout my life, I have run into people that have different views on reputation. Some have taken the position that they do not care what others think about them. As such, they live life not caring what they do or say. Others have cared so deeply about what others think about them, it has stifled their ability to make decisions and impact people for fear of being disliked. A healthy balance will help you keep things in perspective and stay motivated.


Working with people is one of the greatest challenges we face. The diversity of education, skill, background, and experience often supports an environment of success. However, those same differences can create challenges, and if not properly managed can lead to the demise of individual and organizational reputations. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” A shadow is an interesting analogy of our reputation. A shadow changes its appearance regularly depending on the position of the observer, as well as, the quality of the light. Shadows are not often directly proportional to the size and shape of the object they are representing. Meaning, reputations are easily distorted and not always based on facts. They can be misrepresentations of the truth. Have you ever heard someone say “they are not the person I thought they were?” Maybe the individual had a bad reputation, but ended up having a good character, or a seemly good reputation, but bad character. Either way, the observer changed his/her perspective and/or added more light to identify truth. So, just how important is a reputation?


Proverbs 22:1 says, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.” Notice that the passage starts out with the word choose. This suggests that we have a choice when it comes to focusing on our reputation. It is widely understood that people tend to trust, collaborate and work with those in which they believe have good character. If your reputation is indeed a shadow or reflection (right or wrong) of your character, it can have a significant impact on our success and our ability to influence others. Your reputation is formed from your actions, decisions, and interactions with others. Not every decision we make will be looked at favorably. However, people tend to respect those that regularly focus on doing the right thing and genuinely care about others.


I mentioned earlier the perspective that we use to evaluate others’ reputations can easily be distorted. Our angle and the quality of light can help insure that we make the correct observation about others and certainly can help our reputation as well. Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” There could be no better light than the One that guides and creates a shadow that is directly proportional to the character of the source. This light not only allows others to see your true character, but it will give you discernment as you work with others.


Challenge: Remember that your reputation matters. Be diligent in your effort to do the right thing and look out for the best interest of others. Your efforts coupled with the light of the world will be the perfect balance for building character, managing your reputation, and impacting people.


Published: November 1, 2019

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