An old story from France told that as the Emperor Napoleon was presiding over his Army's discipline one day, a particularly interesting case was presented to him for adjudication. When an accused soldier appeared before the great leader, Napoleon asked the soldier his name. The only reply from the man was a barely audible mumble. The question was repeated and once again the man's only utterance was a mumble. "Speak up, man," the Emperor shouted! Sheepishly, the soldier stated, "Napoleon is my name." "Sir," said the monarch emphatically, "either change your behavior or change your name!"
All of us have names, titles, and descriptions which identify us to the world and link us to families, friends, and commitments. However, it is the nature and quality of daily conduct that becomes the distinguishing factor for most people. Our reputation and "good name" take a good deal of time to develop in most instances, but they may be lost in a singular act of stupidity or an instant of thoughtlessness!
The writer of Proverbs knew that in life, nothing can substitute for a good name or impeccable reputation. A good name is inseparable from one's good actions. As we lives our lives in this coming week, we will make daily installments on our reputations. Maintaining a good name requires constant vigilance and constant attention to the details of living. None of us can settle for anything less than a sterling reputation!
Be careful this week. There are a thousand ways in which to make your name dirty. Nothing can be an adequate substitute for a life of high values, unimpeachable character, or unassailable integrity!
Some American leaders in business and government are in the twilight of their careers and are said to be focusing now on their legacies. They will find out that the all-seeing eye of history and reputation will view them very differently than they think. More than the last few months of responsibility, they will be judged by the bulk of their lives and service. Their legacies will have much more to do with how they lived daily life than a single, momentary event. Repeated lapses in judgment or character cannot be erased by spin-meisters and a few well-chosen words. Reputation is earned and a good name must be earned and reverified daily!
God bless you this week --- and may He grant you the wisdom and fortitude to keep your name truly "good." Remember --- you are building a reputation, so make it one of quality and one that will last!