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Chapel Service


Stateline Speedway

July 12, 2014


“What’s More Important…

Character or Reputation?”



Bob Butcher


Today’s Stateline Speedway event is a good time to ask a question for us to ponder. It’s pretty simple once you process the question a while… at least if you want to impress God, that is.

To look into this question’s answer please allow me to look back at a legendary man that holds records that are amazing in Basketball.

Actually, you could just as easily look at Alabama’s legendary Football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant (1913-1983) who led the Crimson Tide from 1958 to 1982. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama’s head coach, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for most wins as head coach in collegiate football history with 323 wins. Out of Paul Bryant’s mouth came the same viewpoint as the man we will use to consider the question to be considered.

One could easily look at numerous “legendary” Coaches, and other sports figures that did a yeoman’s job of leading young High School and College teams along with Professional Teams including a number of race team owners and leaders over its history. A good example is Joe Gibbs.

Definition of Yeoman’s Job: one that performs great and loyal service rendered in a valiant, useful, or workmanlike manner, with great character, especially in situations that involve a great deal of effort or labor, without interest in a big reputation.

However, for ease of obtaining information, lets look at Legendary basketball coach John Wooden (1910–2010). Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” as head coach at UCLA he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period—seven in a row— an unprecedented feat. Within this period, his teams won a record 88 consecutive games. He was named national coach of the year six times.

Here’s the kicker …or, where we are headed today in order to answer this proposed question:

John Wooden believed that character is far more important than reputation. “Your reputation is what you’re perceived to be by others,” Coach Wooden often told his players, “but your character is what you really are. You’re the only one that knows your character. You can fool others, but you can’t fool yourself.”


So… Have you guessed the question yet? Well, it is the title of this message on the front page today. So lets look at what God has to say about this.

In the book of Revelation, we find the words of the risen Christ to seven different churches in Asia. To the church in Sardis, Jesus said, “I know your works, that you have a reputation that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1).

The Lord knew the truth about them, and no doubt deep down they knew it too.

Jesus told them to wake up and strengthen the spiritual life inside them that was about to die (Rev. 3:.2). “Wake up! Strengthen what spiritual life that remains within you but is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of God.”

He urged them to remember the truth they had received, obey it, then turn around and start moving in a new direction (v.3). “Remember the gift of truth you once had received into your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God.”

“If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I’ll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night.

When the Lord shows us what’s wrong in our lives, He always provides a remedy for change. When we turn from our sins, He forgives and strengthens us to start over. His grace is unparalleled.

How liberating it is to exchange a false spiritual reputation for the true, life-giving character that comes from knowing Christ our Lord!

“Men talk and seek too much of gold and fame,
And not enough about a name (character);
And yet a good name’s better far
Than all earth’s glistening jewels are.” —Guest Quotes


The true test of our character is what we do when no one is watching.


Further Historical Insight That Still Fits Today:

Today’s Chapel takes the spiritual temperature of the Christian church in Sardis. This city of Sardis contained devotees of many pagan gods and goddesses. This might have been a contributing factor to the spiritual lethargy in some of the members of the church (vv.1-3), yet a remnant had a vital spiritual walk (vv.4-5).


“You still have a few followers of Jesus in Sardis who haven’t ruined themselves wallowing in the muck of the world’s ways. They’ll walk with me dressed in white in Glory for they have proved their worth!


The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the Book of Life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels.”


A worldly environment does not need to determine the way a believer lives. Spiritual vitality is an individual choice of yielding to God’s transforming work.


In the end I believe that character will far outshine and reward one instead of reputation. While it may be true that in these days the world seeks to malign and impugn the character of the wise, truthful, righteous, and pure, because of their own guilt and jealousy; ultimately the Lord God and King of Kings will have His way and the rewards will be bestowed on the other side of eternity to that person of character.


Have a safe and prosperous race today!