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Reputation (1 Timothy 3:7)

Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:7)

Have you ever found yourself disinclined to believe someone's point of view simply because you didn't particularly like them? Whether they were talking sport, politics, religion or just life in general, you, subconsciously at least, dismissed their opinion because you had little affection for them.

Conversely, when you're talking to a close friend, someone you admire and respect, and they challenge you with a new thought or opinion, aren't you inclined to at least consider what they say because of who they are?

I think both these scenarios are true for all of us. There is a wise saying that goes something like this: "Who you are speaks louder than what you say."

It was this concept Paul had in mind when saying that a leader must have a good reputation outside the church. The reason is that a leader's reputation affects the reputation of the whole church.

Your reputation is of enormous value. It can take you years to build it and it can be destroyed in a moment by one foolish act.

James said, "Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly." Why? Because the consequences for being a poor witness are that much greater.

It's worth remembering that if you're in leadership then you are in leadership 24/7. In a sense, there is no "time off". We represent God and his church just as much as when we hang out with friends as we do when we're at youth group.

Our life needs to be consistent, not only because God sees everything, but in these days of social media we can never be sure who might "see" us and where.

Finally, Paul reminds us that we are up against an enemy, the devil, who can hinder God's work simply by ruining your reputation, or allowing who you are to become apparent for all to see. He knows where you are weak and vulnerable and he cunningly tries to trap and expose you.

We've probably all seen examples of well known Christian leaders falling into sin and it's easy to be judgemental. The fall the devil plans for you may not be as serious or as widely reported, but it can still damage God's work.

We can be thankful to God that he's given us His Holy Spirit to conquer temptation and maintain a good reputation, drawing others to Christ by living like Him.

Reflection:

If someone were to ask people who know you what you are like, what might they say? How confident would you be that your reputation is good in places such as the classroom, the classroom, the workplace and the sports field? What's your reaction to the thought that being a leader means you'll be "judged more strictly"?