“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden
– Reputation: “The estimation in which a person or thing is held, especially by the community or the public generally.” – dictionary.com
– Character: “The aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.” – dictionary.com
In my life, my reputation and how people “view” me has dominated my thinking, leading towards insecurity, self-doubt, and fear of failure. If we’re honest, we all struggle with this from time to time, wondering what others think about us. What if we fail? What if we don’t look as attractive as others? What if we are truly known? What if others don’t like what we have to say?
What if…What if…What if…The resounding question that plagues the mind within our insecurity about our reputations.
But what of our character? Have we completely forgotten who we are in pursuit of the presentation of someone we are not?
Reputation has driven me to wear clothes I never enjoyed. Reputation has caused me to hide my brokenness in fear that others would reject me. Reputation has driven me to depression when I have failed at my dreams, wondering what other people think about my epic collapse.
Reputation can destroy us if we are not careful. We must guard our hearts and fight for character, truth, and the fingerprints of God that define our very being.
For many years I have been fearful of losing my reputation and credibility, terrified that revealing my anxiety and depression would wreck my life. Yet, as with many forms of brokenness, I couldn’t hide the symptoms of my pain, leaving me feeling depressed, embarrassed, and feeling like a lesser human being. Our brokenness eventually finds its way to the surface, revealing who we truly are.
What if we were more concerned with our character, integrity, and authenticity rather than our self-image? What if we began seeing our souls as incredibly loved by the Father, recognizing that even in the darkness, fighting for what is right and true is worth all of the rejection the world has to offer?
When my wife and I started dating, I was an incredible actor at hiding my brokenness. For almost four months I hid behind a mask of being put together and mentally strong, full of false confidence. And yet, a moment of truth found me when I could no longer play the role. Over coffee I shared with her what I had been dealing with for many years, terrified she would walk away.
She didn’t leave. Instead, she knew me better than she had ever known me before, now in a place where she could journey with me towards healing as an encouragement of the potential I had for better things.
(Side note: in case you haven’t noticed, many of my greatest moments have happened over a cup of coffee…And I’m totally cool with that.)
She loved me for my character, not for my reputation. My brokenness was simply a part of my journey, just as she faced her own struggles in life.
We are all desperately longing to be known, to be embraced in the nakedness of our souls, and to live an authentic life.
What you are living for, what your heart is pursuing, how you impact the lives of others, and the choices you make regarding who you become are ultimately what matters most in life.
Character. Integrity. Wisdom.
Stop caring about your reputation, because it was never yours to begin with.
Questions For Discussion:
- What are you hiding in the shadows for fear that your reputation will be ruined?
- If you could accept that you are truly loved in your brokenness, how would that change how you lived?
- When others reject you, what does that say about your character and theirs?
- What can you do today to begin seeking a life of character and authenticity?