As a clergy member, I am often called upon to officiate or eulogize the deceased. I make it my practice not to eulogize or officiate funerals where I am not acquainted with the deceased person or the family. In my experience, I don’t recall hearing negative or unbecoming statements about the departed from family members. I have only heard good things said about the person, even if the person was not well liked or unpopular. There are times when one wonders if the truth is being told not wanting to embarrass or offend the family.
In the movie “Kingdom Come,” Whoopi Goldberg played the part of the grieving widow, Raynelle Slocumb. She made an unforgettable statement about her departed spouse. When asked what she wanted written on his tombstone, on a piece of paper she wrote the words “Mean and Surly.”
When your name comes up in conversation, what is said about you? Does your reputation bring scorn, scoff or appreciation? Can people praise God for your life? As pastors and leaders in the body of Christ, it’s time for a self-check – how is your reputation?
D.L. Moody, the great American evangelist, and publisher said this about reputation: “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” As Pastor Moody says, your character will take care of your reputation. The Apostle Paul had a reputation as someone who persecuted the church, but when Christ met him on the road to Damascus, he was converted to the Christian faith and given the mission to preach the gospel to the world. When Paul returned to Jerusalem, many feared him because of his reputation. Here is what the life of Paul teaches us. A bad reputation before salvation is different from a bad reputation after salvation especially for pastors and leaders of the church of the Living God.
Your current reputation should bring glory to God; listen to Paul’s admonition to the Galatians about his reputation. “Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.” Galatians 1:21-24 (NIV)
Church leaders, does your past or present reputation bring glory to God? My challenge to you if your reputation does not bring glory to God: Take the necessary steps to correct your character, and as you correct your character your reputation will be adjusted.
Can people praise God for your life?