Perceptions and Your Name

Perceptions are a funny thing. How often do we meet someone and create a perception about them based on their clothes, hair, looks, or smell. We all do it. Most of the time it is unconscious and we don’t even realize we have established a perception about someone. In our mind, that perception become reality.

Now, take the same situation, same clothes, hair, looks and add a familiarity with the person’s name. A name you have heard before. A name that is well spoken of. Does your perception change? Probably! One of the best ways we can make sure there is no perception bias is by making sure we have a good name. In Proverbs 22:1-4 it says:

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,

Favor is better than silver and gold.

The rich and the poor have a common bond,

The Lord is the maker of them all. 

The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,

But the naive go on, and are punished for it.

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord

Are riches, honor and life.

What is your reputation? What would someone else say about you and your name? Do you know? Most of us probably don’t know for sure. We can hope others would say nice things about us. Too often we get so busy with life that we forget to step back and look at ourselves. Maybe it is time to ask yourself, “what is my life saying to other people?”

I spent six years in Asia. Over that time, I had the honor of meeting many wonderful people. While we were all culturally diverse, there was an openness to learn about each other. I met individuals from India, Philippines, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. All were different and all had great stories. Each person had built a reputation and a name for themselves in the company. I knew who I should talk to about different topics, who could help him with others and who would be a sympathetic ear. I found out who had a heart for orphans, who had a love of travel and who was just plain fun to hang out with. It was a great time in my career and life.

Of course, all of these folks were able to get to know me as well. Because of the relationships that were built, I had the honor to share the gospel with many of them. One even accepted Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. It was a fruitful time of relationships and ministry. But it wasn’t until I was leaving Asia where I found out about my reputation. I found out what my name meant to those who he had built relationships with over a six-year period.

For my farewell party, I was given a word picture of the words my friends and co-workers felt best described me and my reputation. I was humbled to read words like trustworthy, empathic, creative, enthusiastic, kind, dynamic, genuine and passionate. It was insightful to read words like slapstick, fun, warm, poetry, jolly, sing, quiet and different. But it was honoring to read words like principled, committed, generous and Christian. Without this word picture, I would never have known what my name meant to others. It is not something we can fake. People will see through it.

So I ask again, what would others say about you? What is your reputation? Would they see Jesus in you? Is your day in, day out behavior consistently shining the light of God? Does your daily interaction with others reveal the heart of the Father who loves them? It can if you want it to. Let Jesus open your heart to a good name and a great reputation as a follower of Christ.

Today ask a few trusted friends or family to write down 5-7 words that best describe you. When you get them back do the following actions:

  • • Before you get any words back, write down what you think the best 5-7 words that describe you.
  • • Ask God to tell you how He sees you and write those words down.
  • • Read through all the words from the three lists. Are there similarities or differences?
  • • Are you surprised by the words your friends and family shared? If so why?
  • • Ask yourself, “are these the words I want to be known by?”

If you need to make any changes in your life so you can be known as a wholly devoted follower of Christ, go ahead and decide to make the changes. Ask God to help you and start being that person today. You can change your reputation!


5 thoughts on “Perceptions and Your Name

  1. What a beautiful gift those people gave you. Good insights on the power of reputation and the unconscious impact we have on others. Thank you for sharing.


  2. I lived in Taiwan for about a year about 17 years ago. I felt that the Taiwanese people I met face to face saw me in a different way than many people I’ve met in my own home country of the U.S. I also find that people I meet online perceive me differently. Face to face in the U.S. I think people have a hard time knowing me, especially women. I am not completely conventional in many ways, and I do sometimes have a bit of anxiety with certain people that was born from my childhood.


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