Teaching Children About Protecting Their Reputations

facepalmOne thing parents often preach to their children is the importance of protecting their reputations. I am one of those and have preached that to my children many times. But recently I heard my preaching regurgitated to me by one of my sons and a glaring omission was revealed to me.

But before I go there, a little background is needed.

A friend of my son recently did something uncharacteristic and inconsistent with the Christian values of my son and his friend. My son confronted the friend and explained how important it is to protect one’s reputation. He explained that once a reputation is tarnished, it is very difficult to restore and sometimes impossible. He then encouraged his friend to stop the conduct and to reconsider whether to continue hanging out with those who encouraged the conduct.

I won’t take the time to repeat every word he said, but that was the gist. I must confess that I was very proud of my son for how he responded to his friend (not to mention being awestruck with his repeating so much of what I have told him over the years, when I was not sure he was even listening ).

Lesson One: They listen even when they don’t show it.

But now for the glaring omission reveal . . .


I’m sure many will interject here a hearty


But before readying the tar and feathers, let me explain.

Tar and Feather Pic

Hearing my son talk about the importance of reputation, I realized that reputation in isolation puts an undo value on the perception of others. And caring so much about what others think can lead a believer down a very worldly path.

For example, if a child is overly concerned about what others think of him or her, then the quest for popularity and acceptance might lead the child to behavior inconsistent with Christian values, such as drinking, drugs, harmful friendships, promiscuity, etc. This is because the world’s values are not God’s values. If we teach our children to please the world, we are teaching them the wrong standard and overvaluing the perception of their peers.

So, am I calling for Christians to ignore their reputations?


I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation.
You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation.
A girl can do what she wants to do, and that’s what I’m gonna do.

-Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, excerpt from “Bad Reputation”

Absolutely not!

Everyone should be concerned with protecting their reputations, and it remains very important to me that my children protect their reputations.

But not for reputations’ sake.

Instead, a Christian should be focused on doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

Christians should not have a good reputation because they are striving to please the world; rather they should have a good reputation because they are living in obedience to Christ.

Lesson Two: It’s about living in obedience to Christ.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:1-2

For a Christian, reputation should be about integrity and character and not about mere perception. One shouldn’t do something (or refrain from doing something) simply out of concern over what others will think. Instead, a Christian should focus on doing what is right out of love for God and desire to obey His commands, not out of desire to please the world.

And here is the rub . . . . doing what is right with God will not always please the world. One might be labeled many negative things when standing on the Word of God. A Christian’s reputation might be tarnished with the world when he says, “No!” while the world is screaming, “Yes!”

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 15:19

And that is where one’s reputation with the world is unimportant. What is important is one’s reputation with God.

So, when teaching children about reputation, take care to explain to them that they shouldn’t do (or refrain from doing) something simply to protect their reputations with their peers; rather they should focus on doing what is right and pleasing to God. And THAT is the reputation they should desire from their peers. If a Christian pleases God, his reputation will vary with the world, but that is the reputation a Christian should want with the world–i.e., a God-fearing person who lives out the love of Christ AND obeys His commands.


44 thoughts on “Teaching Children About Protecting Their Reputations

  1. Great points. I agree with teaching our children good values, and its definetly something in my mind. Glad to hear your children not only listened to your advice but also adopted them. It’s the best feedback you could have as a parent. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great message for children and parents! Sometimes we too can get caught up in what the world thinks of us. I always enjoy those “wow, he really was listening!” Moments with my 12 year old… Even if those moments are scarce. 🙂

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    1. It is not God’s will that anyone sin, but He allows it to occur as an exercise of the individual’s will. God allowing things to occur does not mean He is not in control of all things; nor does it mean that He causes or condones sin. True that no one can operate outside of God’s control, but when one sins, one does so outside the will (i.e., desire) of God. Scripture uses the term “world” to describe 1) the Earth, 2) non-believers, and 3) values contrary to God’s Laws.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very sorry, respect to you, that’s inaccurate. There is no individual will. ‘Sin’ depends upon belief systems. Beliefs exist in order to surpass existing beliefs. The more we can shed our beliefs the closer we become to our Maker. The less erroneous our interpretations of God’s will are, the greater our advancements and arch in evolution.


          1. No, not at all. It’s the wisdom of the Bible in its purest form. We’re advancing as a species. Institutional beliefs are overturned and what comes next is from the heart of the matter. God works through you. God speaks to you.


          2. Also… Christ wasn’t a Christian. He didn’t advocate any religion or set of practices. Think about that! We can all aspire to be a Christ in the world today. It’s the highest, closest to God state of understanding we can achieve.


            1. Your saying Christ didn’t believe in himself? How can that be? We can strive to be like Christ, but we cannot be Christ. That role was reserved for God. Did Christ not tell us to “Love thy neighbor as yourself”, that would be guidance that he advocated. I’m having a hard time understanding your perspective. I’m glad to hear that you prescribe to love.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Absolutely. Many of the values, beliefs and shared practices of Christianity. Nothing taken away, in fact.

                I have no idea why God working through me is sharing the insights I’m finding meaningful, more meaningful, especially now in life, with you.

                I guess where we differ is that my awareness of God is that he brings about EVERYTHING. Suffering, war, famine. Because we’re these little people with no will of our own but His. And we’re also a species of His design evolving on Earth and growing closer to being the best version of us we can be. So who can say what God’s will is for Man? We can get closer to God. So much closer.

                We need mistakes or sins as the weak confound the strong. We need adaptability to survive.

                Perhaps i missed something, many people say Jesus was some other religion to Christianity, they miss the point. Jesus isn’t preaching any religion. He gives loads of good advice on proper living. Ask God for what you want. He’s not talking about bread, is he? Love, compassion, it’s all about being a species. And all you can be is that little person God works through. So take care of what you yourself do. Pay yourself the attention.

                God performs miracles through many but none so representative of what God and Good News on Earth are about as Jesus. When we pray to Christ, we send something to the man himself in the images we evoke. The depth of the experience of Being. For the future is shown to influence the past (though future is not fixed predeterminately). Jesus’ life was an allegory. He lived as a symbol to heal the wounds of the future prayers. We can all look for the allegory in our own lives and whether people think of us or not, pray or send us reiki or whatever in the future, humanity will have us retrospectively there for them.

                Sorry to have strayed so far from your post about reputation. It’s not my place to intrude. I guess our reputations are what God wants for us as he works through us. All we have is this (ever powerful God expressing) human to manage as best we can and be the best person we can be. And if we permit ourselves to ask for what we want, what we really want, embrace the design of what we are and fully accept.
                Peace on Earth starts in our hearts with a belief it could happen in our lifetime. It could happen tomorrow. We can alleviate suffering by action and acting upon our own beliefs. Not by helping the poor, you see. By showing the poor how to help themselves.


                1. I remember years ago reading a book entitled, The Beautiful Side of Evil, by Johanna Michaelsen. On her spiritual journey she found out that there were some false Christs out there in the world of the occult. It was published in 1982 and I found it for sale on the internet today. The last part of the book tells how to discern according to biblical precepts. God bless.


                  1. Thanks for your compassion! Striving to perceive allegory and how your own life benefits mankind as a whole is a beautiful, rewarding way to perceive awareness of our purpose on Earth. I will look out for the book you mention. It’s very interesting how other works of literature have altered our common perceptions of the Biblical material.


                    1. Yes, there are books out there that impact our thoughts about the Bible. Some are worth reading, others are from the evil one, wanting to get believers off track. I ran into a season when I sought my way instead of the biblical way for a long stretch of time. I pray I never do that again. I was in a miserable state of mind and spirit. All self-centered and dissatisfied. God bless!


                    2. Do you have an idea why the news in our cultures, with its incline towards reporting in a certain way, is thought of acceptable? Not confuse good news with Good News, it would a lot of sense to be exposed to more of the good news every day.


                    3. That would be great! I’m not sure why they don’t put positive things out there much. I guess they figure people want to hear the bad news. I try to pray for those on the news, but too much of the news is hard to take. I agree with you. 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the lines that you said that stuck out to me was that it doesn’t matter what our reputation with the world is, but our reputation with God that matters. The way I see it, as long as we do what we are supposed to do as Christians, live the Word and a life that reflects God’s greatness, we will have a good reputation with the world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I disagree in this . . . the world’s values very often are not God’s values. That’s why Christians are often persecuted and are called bigots, intolerant and discriminatory. Granted, Christians also stray from the love of Christ we are called to show others, but, nevertheless, the world often does not accept Christian values. For that reason, the world will not always respect a Christian’s views and values–which directly affects reputation. That said, I do agree that non-Christians often do admire and respect Christians for their values–such as caring for the poor, showing kindness to others, gentle and humble spirits, etc. My point, though, is that pleasing the world may lead down wrong paths. Which is why pleasing God is the goal. If we please God, our reputations will vary with the world, but that is the reputation we want with the world–i.e., God-fearing people who live out the love of Christ AND obey His commands.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Excellent post! I love that you look for the God-directed balance, because we always must remember that Jesus was criticized loudly for being a glutton and a drunkard and a friend of tax collectors and sinners. (Matt 11:19) How is that for reputation?

    No one can see the heart but God, and only He knows His purpose and our intentions clearly.

    The key is keeping in contact with Him and through His Word. Then let wisdom be proven right by her actions. God reaches out to the lost in desperate places, and we don’t always understand His work. He must be our guide.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post! and great responses to readers questions as well. It brings to mind a song by Sara Groves “This Journey Is My Own” I love the line in that song that says, “I live and I breathe for an audience of One”.
    You can never go wrong when you base your reputation on God’s values and not the worlds. You might be persecuted for those values and I am sure that will happen but to live with the end (eternity) in mind is a great way to live.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s always a great day when you realize that they are indeed listening! 🙂 It’s interesting to add the clarifying point about reputation. I’m pretty sure that our kids know that by “protecting your reputation” we mean keeping it in line with our beliefs and standards, but this post makes me want to sure that we are directly stating that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. I assumed that was the case as well, but the discussion between my son and his friend was focused on not doing the conduct because it would result in a bad reputation as opposed to not doing it because it was wrong–like if you did the conduct in secret, it would be okay because there would be no harm to reputation.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Personally, I think that a child should not be worried about protecting their reputation, which is an abstract concept for any child to grasp to begin with. Instead, I feel it is more important to teach children to be thoughtful and respectful towards everyone, old and young, regardless of race, color, religion, or ability level. I don’t care what religion you follow or not, being kind to people is the ultimate goal for any human being on earth, regardless of how you are perceived by others(your reputation)–oftentimes, a reputation has a negative connotation to it and is an ill-formed opinion based on perception, so what is the good in protecting something potentially false and misleading ? Rather, teaching your child to protect the good in you and those around you has a better outcome in my eyes. There are so many people in history of a variety of faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds, that in spite of their reputation, have changed the world for the better. Thank you for making me think!


    1. Kids are able to grasp far more abstract things than reputation. Similar views of the inabilities of children have led to a dumbing down of our education system. Nevertheless, any parent knows that their children’s reputations are important. The distinction I am trying to make here, though, is that a focus on reputation alone or a focus on the world’s perception is incomplete and misplaced. A Christian’s reputation should be based upon the Christian’s obedience to God, which exhibits the traits you reference, thoughtfulness and respect for others, as a fruit of the Spirit. By following God, a Christian’s reputation will take care of itself, but it will not always be positive to the world. Your comments relate more to those who don’t have absolute Truth as a guide but rather an amorphous sense of what is right and wrong. My household has God at its center, which my children have been able to grasp from very young ages.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, but there are many other religions that still preach kindness, regardless if they are Christian or not. I think that was my point…to be a good person doesn’t solely rely on Christianity…you can still be kind and thoughtful to those who are different than you and hold different belief systems. Isn’t that what Christ was all about…do unto others as you’d have done unto you?


          1. I know, but again, the Christian believe that I grew up with all-inclusive, not divisive. I am a K teacher, so my worldview is all about teaching children to be kind and thoughtful so that words and actions bring people together and not separate or injure others, regardless of religious backgrounds, skin color, sex, or beliefs. I was raised a Protestant and we are raising our daughter Catholic, as that is my husband’s religion. While we say grace at the table every night, and go to Church, we also teach tolerance for others and being kind to all, regardless of what others may think of you or how others may treat you. We’ve had several experiences over the years of young children, as young as 5 years old!–actually telling my daughter to lie to us, mislead her, tell her that people will come into our home at night…and these are children that come from “good” families, church going families. My point is, Christianity is not a be-all end all for behaviors that we want our children to follow. There needs to be something intrinsic in the person as well as guidelines in faith as a thought process to guide correct actions and relationships. There are plenty of instances in the Bible that point out particular groups of people–women, homosexuals, lepers, etc–who are considered less than human and should be separated and even ostracized from society because of these personality traits. I personally don’t feel that this exclusionary tactic is in line with Christian values, and yet those who follow the Bible in the strictest sense do just that…separate and divide people into class groups. I really do appreciate your viewpoint. Thank you for responding.


            1. If you are saying many Christians misinterpret the Bible, I would agree with you there. But that is not a reason to reject or shun Biblical Truth. If you are commenting from a Christian public school kindergarten teacher perspective, I understand a bit more in that public school teachers are robbed of the opportunity to share overtly the Truth of Christ; consequently, they have to sanitize their message–i.e., teach Christ without mentioning His name, which comes down to teaching Christian values (love, respect, tolerance, etc.) with a secular mask. To that end, public school teachers teach “to the better angels of our nature.”

              But, again, I am writing about what Christian parents teach their children. In this, I am not concerned about others’ belief systems. As a Christian parent, I will teach my children Biblical Truth, the Truth that includes loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your enemies and praying for them, charity, peace, humility, justice, and so forth. Biblical Truth is not divisive in the sense you are speaking, even if some believers misapply the Bible’s message, and each of your examples can be explained in context.

              “Christianity is not a be-all end all for behaviors that we want our children to follow.” I couldn’t disagree with you more. For Christians, Christ is the be-all and end-all. Every value I teach my children is through the lens of Christ. It’s called a Christian worldview. Whether other belief systems overlap is irrelevant to what I teach my children. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.

              Teaching Christian values in a sanitized public school environment is a whole other discussion. But trying to find a universal Truth outside of Christ is more laborious and less productive than the Labor of Sisyphus. You don’t have to search far around the globe for the realization that human life is not valued as highly or in the same manner as in Christ. Without Christ, one is simply appealing to human reason and experience, two very poor and unreliable measures of Truth and morality. So, if a Christian teaches his child to be good for goodness sake and does not teach the child that goodness is from Christ, then that Christian is playing hide the ball with his child and setting the child on a potentially destructive path of secular humanism. Christians must teach their children that Christ is the plumb line against which they are to orient their entire lives and thoughts.

              “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. . . . Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord . . . .” Colossians 3:17, 23.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Thank you for your honesty. I think my point about Christ not being the be all and end all is that even if we teach our children to be good in the eyes of the Lord, it’s very hard to do and puts a great deal of pressure on the child. I can remember distinctly this exact feeling every Sunday, hearing my minister speak of being “good” and following Christs’ example in word and deed, only to get in trouble at home and feel like a failure because I could never, ever measure up to the ideal of Christ.


                1. I completely get that. But that’s a product of Christians preaching works righteousness, which is unbiblical. If properly instructed on the fallen nature of all men and that we are saved despite our sins through faith, then the feeling of worthlessness fades away and the overwhelming appreciation of grace washes over.

                  Liked by 1 person

  8. Well said. Just when you wonder if all the things you have been saying over and over again for years has sunk in, and it does, that tells us to never give up or underestimate the importance of giving values to children.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Here here! Makes me think of the John Wooden quote:

    “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great reference to John Wooden. I am a long time college coach and one thing that we all need to adhere to in this society is “Building Your Brand”. It is a different way at looking at it but it hits the core of a lot of kids and honestly adults today. Your brand can be smeared through mistakes or half truths so easily so you must look at yourself as a brand you are building. Mistakes are made at times and it is even more important to rebrand yourself. I relate a bunch of parenting thoughts to coaching in my blog. https://brianbaronecoach.wordpress.com I am going to talk about building your brand soon

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  11. I LOVE this. As a mother and the wife of a youth pastor I often feel like this is the great fall of the church and parents with children and youth. I cannot count the number of times I have heard the phrase “what’s it matter, nobody saw it.”.

    Liked by 1 person

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