Many remember the Canon camera commercial in 1990 that featured tennis great Andre Agassi. The commercial ended with a close up of Agassi in sunglasses stating, with all seriousness, “Image is everything.” While the commercial is very much a product of the early 90s, from the background music to the visuals to Agassi’s very 90s suit, tie, and sunglasses, image is very important to human beings of every age.
Even the great prophet Samuel needed to be reminded by the Lord that being overly focused on image can lead us astray from God’s purposes. 1 Samuel 16 tells the story of the Lord instructing Samuel to go to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons whom the Lord had chosen to be king. Samuel did as the Lord told him. When Samuel laid eyes on Jesse’s son, Eliab, he thought Eliab surely must be the one the Lord desires to be king. But the Lord said, “I do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV). In other words, image isn’t everything.
I recently read some wise words from John Maxwell. Maxwell wisely states, “Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are” (The Maxwell Daily Reader 242). Maxwell suggests we ask three important questions to determine if we are more concerned about image or integrity.
- Consistency: Are you the same person no matter who you are with?
- Choices: Do you make decisions that are best for others when another choice would benefit you?
- Credit: Are you quick to recognize others for their efforts and contributions to your success? (ibid)
Consistency, choices, and credit are a good gauge.
Perhaps you’ve heard that only ten percent of an iceberg is visible. The other ninety percent is underwater. I like to think of image and integrity in these terms. Image is the ten percent that we project but the real substance of who we are is the 90 percent that is not visible.
As Christ followers, image is not everything. Integrity to the great commandments to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor is everything, according to Christ. After all, God continues to look at the hearts of people and not at outward appearance.
-Dr. Steve Pulliam
Central’s Executive Pastor
Maxwell, John C. The Maxwell Daily Reader. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007. Print.