Don't Worry About Your Reputation

By: Jill Briscoe

As we go about our daily lives, it’s important that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Once we start listening to our own press, thinking that we are really very important people, humility tiptoes out the door. Learn to laugh at yourself—a lot! The Bible tells us to humble ourselves and not wait for someone else—like God!—to do it for us. “Humble yourselves,” says the Bible (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6), or God will humble you (see Daniel 4:37; Mat 23; 12). Take responsibility to practice this spiritual art.

As Paul begins to paint this wonderful word portrait of Jesus in Philippians 2, he says that Jesus “made Himself of no reputation” (verse 7). Think about that. Our reputation, what people think about us or say about us, is very important to us—too important sometimes.

Years ago, I was working for a youth mission in the United Kingdom. We were reaching many young people who hung around the pubs at night. Some came to Christ as a result of our outreach. One day, Trevor, a young man who was a relatively new believer, came to our house to ask if I would go to one of the pubs and talk to his friends about the Lord. “They’re really interested, Jill,” he said, “but I can’t answer all their questions. So I told them I knew someone who could. Would you come with me tonight?”

I was surprised at my response to this young man. I didn’t want to go. Reluctantly, I said I would, hoping he wouldn’t notice my hesitancy. When he had gone, I spent time with the Lord talking it through.

“Why don’t I want to go?” I dared to ask God.

“You’re afraid of your reputation,” He answered.

“Oh, yes,” I replied, “I suppose I am.  What if someone sees me going into the pub and tells someone about it?  What would they think of me?  What would they think of you? They know I’m a Christian who works at the youth center, and I may not be able to explain why I’m going into such a place.”

Yes, I decided that the Lord was right. I was indeed concerned about my reputation.

That night I read Philippians, asking that some principle I found in the letter would show me how to answer my young friend.  Of course, when I came to Philippians 2:7, I stopped in amazement.  There was my answer: Jesus “made Himself of no reputation,” “Well, now,” I said to myself, “what was I worried about my reputation for? He didn’t worry about His.” I had a choice to make. I could make myself of no reputation for Jesus; or I could play it safe, stay home, and let someone else put his or her reputation on the line and answer the questions.  Anyway, why couldn’t these kids come to church and get their questions answered if they really wanted to know?  Why bother me?  As I tuned in to my thoughts, I was ashamed of myself.  Soon I was on my knees, the question settled.

I went into the pub with Trevor and met his wonderful friends. That act of obedience started a movement of the Holy Spirit across the town. Jesus didn’t hang on to His reputation, and He didn’t care about recognition for who He was. The Bible puts it this way: Christ Jesus “made Himself nothing.” He came to a pub—in fact, He was born in the stable that belonged to the pub!

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine.