Recognition vs. Reputation

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One of the things that makes the corporate world different than many other work environments (and so spiritually challenging) is that there’s a great deal of focus placed on recognition. While there’s nothing wrong with being recognized for a job well done, often recognition becomes a driving force in our work lives. In my career, I’d admit that some of the moments when I’ve felt most satisfied are when I’ve been visibly recognized for my work, despite the fact that there are other more impactful achievements that went unnoticed.The Bible provides a great deal of insight into this issue, specifically the writings of Solomon, who authored the books Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. As the son of King David, Solomon achieved tremendous worldly success as well as a much personal loss.

He tells us in Proverbs 15:23 that praise is a good thing – “Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” But in Ecclesiastes 4:4, as he’s reflecting on all of his own achievements, he shares this thought – “I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” So recognition is a tricky thing. It’s great to recieve it, but chasing it can be an empty endeavor.

Instead of recognition, the Bible encourages us to pursue something more important – a good reputation. Recognition is earned through perceived successes, and the more you raise the bar for yourself, the tougher receiving recognition becomes. Reputation is different. It’s built on character and it’s built over time. Proverbs 22:1 says, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.” While recognition is temporary, reputation endures. It’s built every day from the choices we make, our attitudes during challenging times, and most importantly, the manner in which we treat others. Let’s let our character as Christians speak more loudly than our yearning for accolades.

3 Responses

  1. Great post! Funny, but I was actually talking with a coworker about this very topic today. I was saying how it’s not easy, but I’m working to accept that my career holds value for more than what I receive credit for. Not an easy task but one that will be worthwhile. So important for us humans to realize…

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  3. i’m often reminded of ben franklin on this whole recognition thing reflecting on the street lighting of Philadelphia… paraphrasing, “It’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t care who gets credit.” This is the truth of corporate life and life in general… there’s doubtless scripture on this, but i am too green to know it… But it certainly rings true… You CAN get things to happen, but it is usually easier when you neither hope nor expect any recognition… sometimes it happens, usually not, but recognition is mostly satisfying our wound of “not being good enough.” When we BELIEVE in our inherent goodness, derived from God’s love and grace, getting praise from the world means less… not that i DO that always, far from it, but i can SEE it on the horizon… Doing the “right thing” and working for the larger “causes” in corporate life hardly ever seems to take me far organizationally, in fact often the opposite… in so many ways, this attitude simply doesn’t “fit” and others don’t even SEE what you’re doing, much less have empathy for it nor motivation to join you… but there ARE kindred spirits, and more of them than i thought… getting myself clear with my needs and the source of them has made me increasingly more “visible” and “clear” to others who are working in similar ways… sometimes its spiritual, sometimes it’s simply spiritually grounded business behavior… either way, it’s good. dave

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