There was nothing I hated more in school than the dreaded group project.
There are two types of people in this world: those who carry the group and those who expect the group to carry them. I always fell into the first class of students, and when group projects were assigned, I just KNEW I’d have to do more than my fair share if I wanted to ensure we’d get a good grade. With my grade (read: my value, my self-worth) at stake, I wasn’t willing to put my name on a project that wasn’t done well. And if my classmates weren’t going to do their parts well, I’d cave and do it for them to make sure my grade was secure.
Now that I no longer have grades to worry about, I find other things to depend on to make me look good.
Are my girls dressed cute for church? They better be because they are a reflection of me. If I let them go to church with disheveled hair, holes in their pants, and mismatched shoes, other people would think poorly of me because I am their mother. We share a last name.
Are the women in my Bible study benefiting from my teaching? I hope so because what they glean is directly related to how well I teach. If they are bored and not growing in their relationships with the Lord, they will think badly of me because I am their teacher. Our group bears my name.
Are the posts on this blog entertaining and challenging readers in their faith? They need to be because without both aspects my writing won’t reach anyone beyond my family (Hi, Mom!) and close friends. If the articles aren’t true to my style, lack depth, or are theologically unsound, readers will lower their opinions of me because I am the author. This blog has my name on it.
In all of these examples, my reputation is at stake.
I was talking to God about this the other day. I went on and on about how reputation is everything and how I don’t want my name on something that isn’t done well or right or my way.
And you know what God said?
He said, “Kelly, My name is on YOU every single day. How do you think I feel when YOU don’t represent ME well?”
My heart sunk into my stomach.
He was right.
As a Christian, I literally bear Christ’s name. And, as a result, everyone who knows that I am a Christian associates everything I do with Christ Himself. And most of the time I’m not representing Him well.
I was challenged to do better. Be better. For His sake, for the Gospel’s sake, represent Him better.
I thought about those old group projects. When they were done poorly, I wanted to remove my name from them. I wanted no association with the group of people or the work we had done so badly. My reputation was at stake.
But God doesn’t remove His name from me when I don’t represent Him well. In some cases, He even seems to emphasize to those around me that I am His. Whether I am bringing Him honor or shame, whether I am enhancing or destroying His reputation, I am His. And He proves His love to me and to the world by leaving His name on me when I am least worthy of bearing it.