“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” —Abraham Lincoln
Some thought-provocation for you today:
What invites respect?
Is it a title? An office? Seminary degrees? Social status? Talent? Abilities? Intellect?
In reality, it should be none of these things.
It should be character.
Respect is earned. And then it’s sustained by influence, not position. Sure, presidents, preachers, parents, and practitioners are initially given respect for their position, but if they underperform or lack integrity, respect is quickly lost—and most difficult to recover.
Those who possess great skills are initially granted respect, but very soon it’s their character that will either sustain it or prove them unworthy.
Look at what Paul says about the qualification of leaders—those worthy of respect: “Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2–3).
As we look at this list, we notice it’s all about character—not title or talent. Even “able to teach” in this context speaks of character—the ability to teach, here, is to have a “moral platform” from which to instill lessons in others.
Respectable leaders rise to the occasion and do the right thing because it’s who they are. They embody the values espoused. They express their leadership in humility. People choose to follow them because they’re worthy of respect.
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).
My prayer this week—Father, thank you for where you’ve placed me, and for the opportunities you give me to lead and influence others. Will you show me areas of my character that need growth and transformation so I can be truly worthy of others’ respect?