More Valuable than Gold: Name, Reputation, Legacy

First, The best perspective…

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour than silver and gold. – Proverbs 22:1

When our son Brandon was a child, Dee and I made sure to impress upon him the vital importance of a good name. Particularly on those occasions when he would go off to visit friends for a full day or spend time with larger groups of peers over a weekend, my last moments with him before parting would include a brief series of questions that would go something like this:

Dad: What is your name?
Son: Brandon
Dad: Yes and what is your last name?
Son: Michaels
Dad: What does that name mean?
Son: Honesty, integrity, strong character, good behavior…

Sometimes the answers given by Brandon varied a little, but the point was always made. As a member of the Michaels family, my son knew there were certain expectations and a bit of family honor to uphold.
I wanted him to know that his name meant something and he needed to understand that his name (and the family name) was to be protected. The right and positive choices that we make help to form inner character and this begins in the years of childhood. God’s Word tells us clearly, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”

It’s the same for anyone. What is the value of your name or my name? When people think of you and remember your name, what image comes to their mind? Our name is of great value and it is worthy of protection so that when others remember us, the thought will be pleasant. A good name leads to reputation…

Dee and I know a local car dealer who has his own name in large letters above the front entrance of his business. When we last purchased a car from him, he briefly shared his philosophy stating,
“I want to be able to go into the grocery store and not have to worry about who will see me there.” More than twenty-five years of business in the same location provides solid testimony that he has been successful in building a favorable reputation among his many happy and satisfied customers.

You and I should have the same perspective as our friend Joe. Our reputation is on display every day as we interact with those around us. People hear our words and they take note of our actions, whether for good or not-so-good. However, most people tend to forget details, such as the actual words we have said, or what they have seen us do. Instead, what they are left with is impressions, and again, these can be good or not-so-good.

As we consider our personal reputation, it’s important to remember that consistency is the goal and to maintain a positive reputation, we must ever be on our guard to protect that which should be a most precious asset. When we fail, it’s time to look to the Lord for forgiveness and restoration, which He grants according to the promises in His Word. Then we should seek the forgiveness of those who have been harmed by our words or deeds.

When you and I build a good reputation among our circle of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, God Himself is the One who receives the glory and this is the correct long-term goal while we remain on this Earth. We also must remember that our reputation is something that grows and lasts through our entire lifetime. Then, when life draws to a close, reputation leads to legacy…

When I think of those who had a positive impact on my life, I think of people like Ernie and Helen, Earl and Edis, Ted and Joy, and many others. The common thread shared by these people is that each one has completed their time on Earth and has passed on to glory. They are with the Lord and their legacy has been established.

A person’s final legacy is not truly established until they have passed on, and this is one reason our name and reputation must be carefully built and consistently protected over time. The unfortunate truth is that you and I can carefully build a solid reputation over many years and then have it destroyed through a moment of foolish behavior or the sudden spewing of spiteful and hateful words.

The key is to walk closely with the Lord while there is yet time, giving every effort to honor Him by being a blessing to others. May it be that we leave a  legacy that honors God and allows those we leave behind to recall our lives with a smile and pleasant memories.

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© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2015

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