What Makes a Good Name?

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver or gold” Proverbs 22:1 

My dad had a good reputation.  He was a humble dairy farmer.  He was honest.  At the end of the day, he was tired, but he always gave a day’s work for a day’s pay.  For the last twenty years of his life, he farmed for Green Giant® in the fields.  During planting season, he worked 14-16 hours a day.  Once the crop was sprouted and growing, he turned to cultivating.  When the crop was ready for harvesting, he turned to running the picking equipment.  I have copies of his handwritten calculations of his pending wages as he entered into a yearly pocket calendar the hours he worked each day.  The first few years he worked for them, Mom and I did the evening milking chores because he did not get home in time.  When I went to college, he sold the dairy herd, worked for Green Giant spring to fall, took a few weeks off, then moved to Florida and worked in the orange groves.

My father’s funeral was well attended by neighbors.  The visitation was what surprised me.  Hundreds of people came to show respects and time and time again I heard from friends, co-workers, neighbors, and town business people how much they respected my daddy.  He had a good name.  I am honored still to be called his daughter.

To live above reproach is a difficult thing to do.  To be kind when everyone else is unkind, to live within your means when others leave bills unpaid, to unashamedly stand by your faith when others mock, to remain silent when others criticize because they misunderstand—that is to be sought above silver and gold.

Shakespeare’s play, Othello, addresses this in the following character developing lines: (Act III, scene iii)

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,

Is the immediate jewel of their souls.

Who steals my purse steals trash; ‘tis something, nothing;

‘Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

But he that filches from me my good name

Robs me of that which not enriches him,

And makes me poor indeed. 

I cannot think of anything worse than condemning someone of doing something just because you do not approve.  You do not know the heart of that person and you have no right to filch from them their good name.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be too correct, too loyal, too diligent, than just a little wrong; even if I am accused of wrong doing in the process.  God alone knows my heart in the end and that is what is most important.

My ninth grade Literature/English class was always forced to memorize these lines for a grade.  I’ll never regret having them learn such good character-building lines.  In this case, coupling the Bible with Shakespeare is a good thing. My dear friend, Margaret, often quoted those character building lines quoted above, along with the poem, “Who Loved Mother Best.”  She learned those and other good lines at the hand of public school teachers.  Oh that those worthy elements were instilled by our public school educators yet today.  I know those lines are in Christian school curriculums but are breezed over and not instilled.  What a shame.

And now, I am stepping off my soap box.







  1. Glenda

    I remember a statement one of my business college professors used quite frequently: “It is more important to be dependable than to be smart!” He was a very wise man, and had written some books on business psychology that also gave great advice for everyday relationships as well. What a legacy your father left for you! You learned much from observing him over the years, I’m sure! Yes, we must guard our name and reputation, for that is how people will remember us once we are gone….

  2. Happy Birthday, Karyn! I don’t know the exact date but you said it was sometime this week. Hope it’s wonderful!

    • Thank you, Jessica. Yes, it is this week. I turn into a new decade in a few days.

  3. Alyson

    Thank you Karyl.My Grandmother,Granddaddy,and Mom were the same way.They were very hard working people who loved God. We didn’t have alot of material stuff.My Grandmother and Mom made our clothes.We worked in the garden for food.My Grandaddy and I would go to the sale to buy a donkey or mule to till the garden.We were always doing something outside at Grandmother’s house.My memories of the “Good Oh Days”.

    • My youngest daughter called me last night. Her husband recently accepted the pastorate in Leland, MS, and they are moving about two hours down the road. They planted garden yesterday and it reminded me of our days when the children were all home. Bob and I always planted a garden and I canned lots of food for winter. Denise bakes her own bread too. So, some of the “good ‘ole days” continue on. My son plants a garden too.

  4. I’m thankful to have been reared by the kind of man you describe, Karyl. It’s a wonderful thing to have a godly heritage.

  5. Mandy Ferguson

    While I can’t say that I remember everything you taught me, I do remember those lines. 🙂
    I too, have/had grandparents and parents who have a good name. I hope that I will leave the same heritage for my daughter.

    • Aww, thanks Mandy. I was so hoping that a student might comment either on fb or here. I’m glad you still remember the lines. Especially the lines from “he who steals my purse, . . .” are so valuable. Thanks for commenting. And for that matter, thanks for reading! You are a busy lady. From what I can tell, both you and Denise still find time to read for enjoyment. Good for you.

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