It’s day one of my new job. The facilitator is teaching us upstarts about the importance of building a personal brand for ourselves. ‘A personal brand is a curated perception of what you are known for at work, based on your deliberate actions, decisions and words,’ she says. ‘It forms the basis of your reputation, and’ she raises her eyebrows suggestively, ‘a good reputation can take you very far.’
There is a lot of talk going on about crafting a personal brand … being known as a smart, hard-working, or reliable employee is almost as important as actually being one.
Across different industries, there is a lot of talk going on about crafting a personal brand. It often involves determining what you want to be known for at work, whether it’s an attribute, skill-set, or both, then working backwards to achieve it. The focus on building a personal brand means that being known as a smart, hard-working, or reliable employee is almost as important as actually being one.
As a Christian, I am always reminded that my life, including my 9-5 job, belong to Christ and not to me. My life would be wasted if all I cared about was building my name or reputation. Instead, I have been redeemed so that I can share the freedom that comes in—not my name—but Jesus’ name. The value of my plans for career growth and recognition need to be checked against God’s plan to save the world through this one man. As I wrote down my answers to ‘how I saw myself’ and ‘how I wanted others to see me’ following my facilitator’s instructions, I thought: Is it godly to care, aim for, and strive towards building a personal brand at work?
If you have slumped over your seat in the workplace wondering the same thing, this article is for you.
Yes, your personal brand matters.
When I adopt a laissez-faire attitude towards the quality of my work, I am challenged by how closely the Bible ties our hope in Jesus to the demonstration of commendable behaviour: respectful relationships to authorities (1 Peter 2: 13); endurance (2 Cor 6:4); a good reputation (1 Timothy 3:7); doing work that is worthy to receive praise from non-believers (Matthew 5:16). As Christians, we are representatives of Christ. We are to be modern-day messengers of God’s salvation plan and joyful adherers to the standards of godly living he sets for his people.
We should seriously consider if we are known for patience, good work, and sacrificial leadership, or the opposite.
This means that today, so long as people do not see Jesus in the flesh, our behaviours and actions do have a real impact on people’s opinions of Jesus. So, we should think carefully if our lives reflect the grace and truth that Christ embodies. We should seriously consider if we are known for patience, good work, and sacrificial leadership, or the opposite. We should strive to be above reproach in our conduct. This way, when we do get the opportunities to share the gospel, we do not confuse our hearers with the inconsistencies of our actions.
But, less than you think.
Yet, I know that my reputation is not all squeaky-clean, all the time. After many bad days at work, I count the number of times my cowardice, impatience, and passive-aggressiveness have probably put the name of Jesus to shame. At this point, all I can do is thank God that his plans to redeem the world and save non-believers—and to make me more like Christ—do not depend on me, but on him and his goodness.
God remains sovereign in the workplace despite our poor work ethic or selfish ambition. He is committed to glorifying his son Jesus, regardless of whether we want to partner with him or not, and whether we do it reluctantly or joyfully. And he is preparing a world where there will be no indifference towards Jesus.
Focus on the name that will endure forever.
We know how this world will end. It will end in judgement for those who do not know Jesus, and the creation of a world where Jesus’ name is known, celebrated and revered (Rev 5:9-10). God demonstrated his approval of Jesus by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31). Knowing the end truly helps me to remain joyful at work, teaches me to resist the temptation of cutting corners or gossiping, and frees me to give money from work to support church and missionaries. Whilst I have never been slandered or treated unkindly at work, I know that if or when I do, I can rejoice in the steadfastness of Jesus’ name, and the constant approval I have from God because of it.
My career might be stunted compared to those of my colleagues due to the heavy commitments of church and home. But I know that my efforts are not going to be wasted. I am doing my part in preparing God’s people for a good, new world that will worship Jesus for who he truly is.
In the new creation, all authority, influence, and power, including ours, will sit under Jesus’ own. Will we work in light of this inevitable future? Will we forsake the pursuit of our own personal brand for his?