A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 22:1). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
The King James Version renders that verse…
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,
And loving favour rather than silver and gold.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Pr 22). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Maybe you’ve heard the old saying “your reputation precedes you.” This phrase is usually spoken when you meet someone, and their reputation is either so good or so bad that you feel as if you already know them. The reality is that you judged them before you ever met them. Now that you are meeting them, every action, thought and word is being filtered through the reputation that you had previously heard.
Early on in my life my parents instilled in me a sense of pride about our family. I understood that my actions, whether good or bad, were a direct reflection on my family. My parents raised me to not only respect myself, but to also respect my family. We were trained to live our lives in such a way that we would never bring shame to our family. I knew then, and I still know today, that I live not just for myself, but I also represent my family. Now that I am a married man with kids of my own, I represent so much more now than I did then. We walked with a respect for each other, for our family name. I was a McKinnies. With that name came responsibility. When I went to school I knew not to disrupt, or cause trouble, because when I came home dad was not going to side with me. Now, before you start judging my parents as harsh or mean, let me explain. I cannot remember a time when my parents disciplined me physically. I do know that I would have much rather been disciplined physically, than to have speak with my dad. I told my dad one night, “I wish you would just hit me, rather than talk to me.” I knew that I had let him down and he just kept talking. I was filled with so much guilt; not that I had been caught, but because my dad had to stay up and wait for me. I had let him down. I had failed in upholding the expectations he had set for me.
Early on in my life, I learned that if I made my dad proud, then I would be a success in this life. We were taught to have a strong work ethic. If we were going to do something, then not should we do it, but we should give it all we had! We were taught respect. As a kid when I would spend time with my friends and their families. My parents would instruct me, “Jason, you say yes ma’am and no ma’am, yes sir and no sir.” And then just before they turned to walk away, one final reminder, “Jason, you mind your manners.” Why would they do that? Because my behavior when I was with my friends and their families, was a direct reflection on them. I represented them, so I was instructed on how to behave, function and operate in a manner that would be pleasing to my family.
As I grew older, it wasn’t so much about manners as it was integrity, trust and faithfulness. Consistently, I was reminded to never let my good be spoken evil of, and I needed to keep myself from the very appearances of evil. These were just a few of the reminders on how to be a good person. All of this was the measure my parents took to ensure that when my reputation preceded me, it would be good. That upon meeting someone, I would not have to have my life filtered through innuendos, rumors, etc. They were protecting my name as much as they were protecting their name.
I enjoy history very much. I was excited when I came across this story about Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great reviewed his troops one day, and one of his soldiers slouched a bit.
“What’s your problem?” Alexander asked him.
The soldier explained that he had been out on the town the night before.
“What’s your name?” Alexander asked.
“Alexander,” the soldier answered.
The general said, “Either change your conduct or change your name.”
When I entered the corporate world, the company I worked for reinforced the principles that I was raised with. Consistently we were reminded that we were in the image business. Your conduct, as a partner in this company, is not only a direct reflection of your character, but also a reflection of our company. Therefore, they established three questions we were to ask ourselves when we were in doubt. These were the three primary guidelines we were to abide by in regards to our integrity.
1. Is what I am doing moral, ethical and legal?
2. Would I want what I am doing to be published in the newspaper?
3. How would I feel, if my family were to find out?
What were they doing as a company? Protecting their name, and I was the representative.
Now that I am the Senior Pastor of the Worship Center, I think about those guidelines nearly every day! I now represent so much more than a corporation. I represent each of you. I have a responsibility to protect the Name that we carry, the Name that I preach, the Name that I wholeheartedly believe is the answer for the world. The Name of Jesus!
By protecting my name, I in turn, protect His Name!