Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without.…
— 1 Timothy 3:7
Sometimes I hear people remark, “What people think of me is not important. It’s only important what God thinks of me, and that’s all that I should be concerned about.”
Today I want to explore this statement, especially for those who hunger to be used by God in a greater way. As you will see, what others think of you is very important if you want to be effective in reaching and helping other people. Your “spiritual curb appeal” determines whether or not people will listen to you or let you lead them, or if they will walk away in disgust. Let me give you an example from my own life.
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Years ago I was prepared to invest a large sum of money on a particular project, so I spent weeks researching to understand the best place to make this investment of my time and money. I read advertisements and browsed the Internet to see what I could learn about different places where I could do this business. Finally I found what sounded like the ideal place to take our business. However, this was such a serious investment that I sensed the need to first go there to personally check it out before I made such a large transaction. I told my wife, “From everything I’ve read, it seems to me that this is a top-notch professional place to do business.”
But when I actually came to the place to see if this local business met my expectations, I was shocked. There I was, ready to make a large transaction that was very serious to me. But when I saw how the employees were dressed, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to do business there. Their clothes were sloppy; their hair was disheveled; the shoelaces on their tennis shoes were untied, and it looked to me like the official company uniform included shoddy-looking, baggy sweaters. I was dressed far more nicely than any of them!
I sat down to speak to a representative, and it was evident that he really knew what he was talking about. But to be truthful, the entire time the man was talking to me, I kept thinking, Why am I talking to a man who didn’t comb his hair before he came to work and whose shoes are filthy? I don’t feel good about trusting a man who doesn’t even care what he looks like to his clients! As smart as he sounded and as great as that group claimed to be, they lost my business because I just couldn’t bear the idea of investing my money with a group of people who looked so unprofessional. Even if they were geniuses, their “curb appeal” was so unprofessional that I decided not to do business with them.
Whether we like it or not, most people make their choices based on information received by their five senses. What people see, hear, smell, taste, or feel affects everything. What they perceive with their senses determines what they receive or reject; what they eat or refuse to eat; what they listen to or shut their ears to; what they watch or what they turn off; what they buy or what they walk away from; what they enjoy or what they loathe. People are affected by what they see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. If it doesn’t look good, sound good, smell good, taste good, or feel good, it isn’t going to sell very well. This is usually true regardless of how good a product is. It isn’t going to sell very well if it doesn’t appeal to the senses because people are affected by these things.
This is why it is so imperative that you understand what people perceive about you is very important. If you do not have the right “curb appeal,” people will not listen to you or follow you. If they are turned off by you, your behavior, or your personal presentation, they will be less inclined to let you be their leader. It is just a fact that people are affected by how you dress, how you talk, how you treat others, how you work at the job, and yes, even by your personal appearance. Think of what an impact a first impression has on you when you meet a person!
This issue of what people think is so important that when the apostle Paul told Timothy how to choose leaders, he told the younger minister that it was imperative to choose leaders who “…have a good report of them that are without…” (1 Timothy 3:7).
The words “good report” is derived from two Greek words, kalos and marturia. The word kalos means good, beautiful, noble, enjoyable, or pleasing. The word “report” in Greek is derived from the Greek word marturia. This word has an array of meanings, depending on how it is used, but in this verse, it means a testimony or a witness. When used with the word kalos, the entire phrase means a good witness or a good testimony.
However, because the word kalos means good, beautiful, noble, enjoyable, or pleasing, it conveys the idea of a person whom others enjoy and who has a testimony of being pleasant or pleasing. In other words, this person has a good reputation in the sight of others. There is nothing offensive or displeasing in his behavior, temperament, or presentation that would discredit him in other people’s sight. According to Paul, it is mandatory that potential leaders have this kind of testimony. What others think about them is very important!
But look what Paul said next. He wrote that if a person desires to be a leader, it is especially required that he or she has a good reputation with “them that are without.”
The word “without” is the Greek word exouthen, and it refers to people who are outside, such as those who are outside of Christ. It refers to people who are non-Christian. Paul says a man or woman shouldn’t even be permitted to be a leader unless non-Christians think highly of them.
It doesn’t matter how much Gospel you preach to non-Christians, how many tracts and books you leave on their desks, or how much literature you send them in the mail — unbelievers are affected by what they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. This means your life is your primary pulpit. If you are a leader or aspire to a leadership position, you must understand this and recognize that people are actively observing the message you present with your life. That is why it’s so important that your “curb appeal” be Christ-honoring and spiritually appealing to people who are watching you.
Think for a moment about leaders of influence who have many people following them. People generally don’t follow those of whom they have a low opinion; rather, they follow people whom they respect and of whom they hold a high opinion. This shows the power of influence and the importance of people’s perceptions. A person’s reputation and his personal behavior are so powerful that these factors determine whether or not a crowd will follow him. In fact, if a person’s “curb appeal” isn’t right, people will seldom listen to or follow him or her, regardless of how gifted that person might be.
Sometimes I hear people remark, “What people think of me is not important. It’s only important what God thinks of me. That’s all I should be concerned about.” When I hear that, I know these are the remarks of individuals who have had no experience in leading people. If anyone intends to help people and affect masses in a positive way for the Kingdom of God, that person will have to learn this principle called curb appeal.
The fact is, what people perceive about us is very important, for it determines whether or not they will ever listen to us!
So let me ask you:
- Do you have a testimony that you are a positive, optimistic, cheerful, faith-filled, hardworking, dependable team player who is enjoyed by others?
- Do non-Christians prefer not to work with you because you frequently display a negative attitude and often give a lazy performance on the job?
- What is your “curb appeal” with unsaved people who see you every day?
- Do people in the church see you as a person they can depend on, or do they view you as undependable and not serious about your commitment?
- How is your “curb appeal” to people in your Christian community?
- Do your fellow believers look to you for help when it’s needed, or do they bypass you because their opinion of you is so low that they have discounted you altogether?
I encourage you to think a little deeper about this subject, especially if you want to be used by God to touch other people in this life. And if your present circle of friends doesn’t understand this vital principle, you may need to develop a new circle of friends who do understand it! It’s too important to just ignore the implications, because you can influence people for God only to the extent that people have a high opinion of you.
So I encourage you today: Ask the Lord what specific steps you could begin to take to spruce up your “spiritual curb appeal”!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I repent for thinking that other people’s opinion of me is unimportant. Help me live such a powerful, balanced, godly, dependable life that others will look to me as a tower of strength they can rely on. My life is my pulpit, and how I live before others will determine whether or not they respect me. If they do hold me in respect, the door will stay open for me to lead them and to influence them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So starting today, I am changing the way I think and embracing the truth that other people’s opinions about me are very important!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I have a positive influence on the people around me. I have a testimony that I am a cheerful, optimistic, faith-filled, dependable, and hard-working team player who is enjoyed by others. Because I do my best to live according to the Word of God, I have a good reputation with others in both the non-Christian world and in the Christian community. People respect me, honor me, believe me, trust me, and want to follow me because they have witnessed that I am solid, dependable, and reliable. Because the Holy Spirit is working in my character to transform my mind and conform me to the image of Jesus Christ, I have a good testimony with everyone I know and meet.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you ever known a Christian who said all the right words, but whose life didn’t match the things he said or preached? How did that person’s hypocrisy affect you and others who were watching?
- Would you want to follow obediently someone you don’t respect? Why not?
- What do people think of you? Do they have a high opinion of you and therefore want to know more about your faith, or do they quietly disrespect you? If you are bold enough to do it, why don’t you dare to ask a few people for honest answers to this question!