While living in Miami in my early 20s, I was mentored by a man named Leroy, who cared very much about his reputation in the community. Leroy cared about his reputation because he was both a businessman and a pastor. Leroy believed his success as a businessman depended mostly on how other people evaluated his character. For him this started with selling a quality product: Gravely lawnmowers. He believed Gravely lawnmowers were the best, more reliable lawnmowers made. As a business owner his goals were to sell great mowers at a fair price, to repair mowers quickly and reliably, to treat his customers as personal friends, and to make things right with his wholesaler or his customers when things went wrong, even if that meant losing money in the short term. As a result, Leroy’s business prospered. He was able to provide a steady middle-class income for himself and his family, plus his employees and their families.
The business was Leroy’s day job. On evenings and weekends his other job was pastoring the Southmost Mennonite Church. In this job he also cared about his reputation. For instance, he wanted to be known as a generous person because he thought generosity was a big part of Christian discipleship. In order to be as generous as possible, he and his wife chose a lower-middle class lifestyle. They wore ordinary clothes. They lived in a smallish house. They ran their car until the cost of repairing it no longer made financial sense. When they needed to buy something, they bought quality and expected it to last for many years. This sturdy, simple lifestyle allowed them to give away lots of money to the Mennonite Church.
- Numbers 14:1 - 4
- Numbers 14:11 - 23