“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” ~ Thomas Paine …
Most of us grew up thinking that our reputation meant everything in life. In grade school, we felt the need to conform and to fit in. In high school, it became a popularity contest for some of us. And perhaps much of this is due to the messages society throws at us about placing a huge importance on what others think of us. Unfortunately, for many who spent a lot of time developing a wonderful reputation, they often found that it does not follow them in life.
It can be easy to get caught up trying to build up a reputation and impress others in your life… and that is ok. Time and time again I have found myself doing so–when I went off to college, when I moved to a new city, every time I start a new job, when I join a new club. The problem is when my reputation becomes my primary concern, and does not mirror my true character within. Perhaps I start saying or doing things so that others will think more highly of me. I often run into this type of individual in hockey, the type who likes to be crude when others are around to get a laugh, but when left one-on-one with me, is very careful what they say and do. At that point they have a conflict of character–who they are, and how other people see them, does not align.
Having character means doing what is right no matter what. It requires us to make morally healthy decisions even when it is not easy… and that takes strength of will. It means deciding what is right and then acting accordingly. It means deciding what is wrong–like stealing, excluding others, gossiping, treating others badly–and then not only avoiding those things in your life, but also standing up against them whenever and wherever you encounter them. And as time goes on, these decisions grow easier to make as our character strengthens and we start to realize that it is much more important to truly be a man of character in God’s eyes, than to simply appear like one in the eyes of man.
As you interact with those around you today… let your true self show.
Questions to consider:
What do you feel are some of the greatest differences between character and reputation?
Why is it often easier to develop a reputation than it is to develop character?
How do you feel about individuals who are chiefly concerned about their reputations? How deep is your trust for them?
For further thought:
“People of character do the right thing even if no one else does, not because they think it will change the world but because they refuse to be changed by the world.” ~ Micael Josephson