For those of you who think you have a good reputation, this one is for you. I too, was one to think that I had a good reputation, after all Proverbs 22:1 and Ecclesiastes 7:1 both speak of a good reputation being far more valuable than wealth and money. I thought being deputy head boy at one of the top schools in the country, being an ‘A’ student and being a youth leader were all things that built a good reputation. It seems this is true, for people told me I had a good reputation, and ultimately people are the one’s who build our reputation, the scary thing is when our reputation exceeded us.
What is a reputation, if it is not but built on truth.
We can have a good reputation, but if it is not built on truth, we have nothing. I love how Psalm 25:2-3 in the NLT puts it.
2 I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
A reputation built on lies, is merely us trying to deceive others of who we really are. I was one to do this, being a porn addict I would deceive people through a good reputation so that if I did slip up a little or got caught, I could say it was a pop-up or something and fall back on my good guy reputation. This lasted for a while, and it is possible to live like this, but as I have found out, one day disgrace will come upon those who deceive, like I once did.
Now disgrace is an interesting word, it means to “Bring shame or discredit on (someone or something)” or it can also mean the “Loss of reputation or respect, esp. as the result of a dishonourable action.” My dishonourable action; lying about my addiction, brought disgrace upon my life. How you may ask, well when people find out you were a porn addict, there is an immediate loss of reputation and people bring shame and discredit upon you. You may say, well this doesn’t apply to me, I don’t do any of that obvious stuff that’s bad for a reputation, and that may be the case. Anytime, however, that your reputation exceeds what you are capable of, or fails to include anything you are, my warning is this, that it will catch up to you, and disgrace will come upon you. For example, say you have a reputation as a ‘cheap’ wedding photographer, yet you fail to let people know it only covers the ceremony, do you think this will not hurt your company in having to turn away people who can’t afford you for the whole wedding? A silly example, but an important point can be seen through it. A reputation in excess of what we offer, or a reputation which does not include the whole truth, will always come back to hurt us in some way. Now I am not trying to say this with a finger-pointing, but rather trying to help you avoid some of the things that have hurt me and share the lessons I learned with you.
So what is the solution?
My view, take it or leave it, I would rather be honestly imperfect than dishonestly perfect. I would rather my life be one of truth, where I can speak to anyone honestly. A life of truth, where people don’t expect what I can’t do, that being perfect. For no one is perfect, and no perfect reputation will ever last.
I must warn you, through the past year I have learned, being honest is not easy. When people judge you and attack you based on your past (Be it you were a porn addict like me), and some don’t extend any grace to you for who you were, despite who you are now, it isn’t easy. When your family is hurt by your actions, your honesty doesn’t make it easier. Does this mean we withhold the truth, certainly not, for our lies will hurt us more than our honesty, as honesty is like the antiseptic on a wound allowing for healing to take place, where as lies are the dirt in the scab, causing more hurt down the line. So the truth, coming out with my truth, telling my secret was worth it. Painful in the short-run, healed in the long-run. Not only did it help free me from being captive in a dark place, but it allowed me to live honestly, as who I am, not as who I ought to be according to my reputation. People now know what they get when they meet me, not a blown up reputation of what I am trying to be, but rather of who I am, open, truthful and free. A good reputation is only worth something if it is built on truth, else it is like walking around with a bar of fools gold, claiming to be the richest man in the room. Great for others to speak about and look at, useless when it comes to inspection.
Don’t let your reputation fail you, don’t let it fail under the inspection of others, rather build it on truth, so that when the time comes, our reputation will be of value, far more than riches and wealth.