Rev. Jackie Jackson
The Harvest Magazine contributor
Reputation is a complicated thing- it’s not easy to get a good one but it sure is easy to get a negative one. In life we strive to be well thought of, but sometimes our good is misunderstood or misinterpreted and therefore evil spoken of; and our mistakes are amplified so that our name or very presence elicits a negative response.
How can this be so extreme? Let’s look at Webster’s definition of reputation:
Reputation–The beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something. A widespread belief that someone or something has a particular habit or characteristic.
I call it “making a name for yourself with others.” You see, with reputation there is no in between. Either there is a positive or negative report that is being spread about you in your sphere of influence (job, family, friendships, church). To many, not having a reputation is just as bad as having a negative one. It means that you have done nothing either good or bad that people deem worth talking about and in this world, people want to be relevant. When people have no opinion of you, they tend to dismiss you… so that drives us to do everything we can to make a name for ourselves.
Think about it… what are people saying about you? Does your reputation precede you? As hard as we try to have a good reputation, the truth is, reputation is based on opinion (see the above definition). So, really, what you strive to show people about yourself can be interpreted positively or negatively regardless of your motive or well-meaning intent!
I recently experienced a life-changing situation where God told me to leave a church that I had attended for 11 years. Although difficult and gut wrenching, I knew I had to find the courage to obey the Lord. Leaving was a tumultuous experience especially when the reputation that I worked so hard for all those years was attacked. Yes… I said that I worked for!
The Lord spoke to me so greatly and said…
“Your reputation has become a form of pride for you. You revel in a good reputation but know that it did not come from your own works. It came from my Spirit. If I were to lift my grace off of you even for a second, you would make bad decisions and follow it up with bad behavior, and your reputation would plummet. Humble yourself! It’s not about your reputation, it’s about my Grace! Exalt my grace and not your reputation!”
I was so blown away! I realized that all these years, I was in pride. He said he gives grace to the humble! When grace is present, you don’t have to work to make people think well of you. I realized that it was the Lord that caused people to respect and love me, not my own works. … Read Philippians 2:5-9. Mediate on it. Let’s look at verse 7 specifically: “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in likeness of men.” Although Jesus had every right to brag and make himself appear great to others, he did not. He always pointed to the Father! He did and said things that were controversial and that gave him a bad reputation among church people. That didn’t matter. He obeyed God the Father! He did not consider what others would think about him…obedience was far better than the opinions of others.
Jesus’s motive in doing things was not to please or impress (make a name for himself without the work of the Spirit) others but to magnify the Father, God himself promoted him and gave him a great name that is above every name! Humility works! James 4:10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
So when your reputation has been attacked, know that your character is under construction. Realize that your reputation doesn’t belong to you. Hide yourself in Him. Do things to honor Him and not to promote yourself. Don’t fight back and don’t defend yourself! I now know the power that I have over people’s opinions! That power is called Humility!