Confession time. I used to iron my jeans.
I blame my Dad. He used to iron everything, including his socks. I can still see him standing behind an old ironing board, steaming a crease into his blue jeans.
Once I asked him, “Dad, why are you ironing your underwear?” Without hesitation, he said, “Because you never know what might happen. You could get into an accident and end up in the hospital. They may have to remove your clothes.”
So I started ironing, not my underwear, but most everything else. I don’t do it as often anymore. In recent years, I have mastered the art of tossing clothes in the dryer for five minutes—convenient and cuddly warm.
But the other day I needed a button-down for church, so I pulled out the ironing board. As I started on the shirt, I thought, “I don’t need to iron the whole thing, just the parts that will be visible underneath the blazer.”
It was early. I was tired, and kind of in a hurry. Fortunately, I realized how lazy I was being and continued. My logic was flawed. Sure, the blazer was neatly pressed and covered the shirt; no one would see more than a few inches below the collar.
But what if I got hot and decided to remove the blazer, forgetting about the wrinkled mess?
A thought struck me. You can learn a lot about character from ironing.
People often rate life through appearance. We judge books by their covers. We give pretty people a pass. And we choose deodorant based on which stick has the coolest label. We assume the contents based on exterior estimation, and have learned to focus on the outside, the part people will see, and ignore what lies beneath the surface.
How tragic. History is full of individuals whose glowing reputations eventually crumbled under the weight of shoddy character. Their personal life didn’t match their public persona. It can happen to all of us.
Someone said, Reputation is who people think you are. Character is who you are when no one’s looking.
Reputation is the blazer we wear out in public. Of course we want it to look nice. But what happens when life heats up? And it will. What do we do when we are backed into a corner or placed in a taxing situation?
Eventually the jacket is going to come off, leaving the undershirt—our character—in plain view. Will it be a wrinkled mess? That all depends on what happened in the laundry room when no one else was around.
It’s tempting to cut corners in private. I’ve done it many times in a hurry to impress people, knowing deep down that I should be more concerned with integrity, with how God sees me.
People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (Samuel 16:7)
Chasing the approval of others is a shallow, exhausting practice. A great reputation should be the result of strong character, not a substitution for it. In the tired hours of the morning, before throwing on a blazer and heading out, drag out the old ironing board and take care of the shirt.
“Because you never know what might happen.”
How important is character to you? Join the discussion below.
Photo Credit: itsray (Creative Commons)