Before there was Impractical Jokers, Punk’d, and a host of other hidden-camera realty TV shows, we had Candid Camera. Candid Camera started it all in 1948. For over twenty years, the original Candid Camera showed ordinary people encountering something unusual or peculiar and recording their reactions.

If you’ve ever seen the show, I’m sure you can say the tag line:

“Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!”

The creative brain behind it all was Allen Funt, whose birthday we celebrate on September 16. Funt hosted his show, so he was a familiar face to the public. That familiarity—and his reputation as a prankster—helped a tense situation in 1969.

1969. Before the days of tight airport security, it was easy to walk onto a plane with a gun. Or to enter the cockpit and make threats. In a five year span (1968-1972), American planes were hijacked 130 times! In his recent book, The Skies Belong to Us, Brendan Koerner called this the golden age of skyjacking. And a popular destination was Cuba.

It was February 1969 and Allen Funt was flying with his family to Miami.  During the flight, the captain came over the loudspeaker and announced they had hijackers and the plane was now headed to Havana.

It would be a tense situation for sure. But then some of the passengers recognized Allen Funt and laughed. They were on Candid Camera! Of course, not everyone bought into it, but a small group of passengers relaxed and even gave kudos to Funt for his stunt.

But it wasn’t a stunt. Allen Funt and his family were just as concerned as others, but in spite of his assurance that this was no prank, a few of the passengers blew it off as part of the gag—and for the rest of the flight to communist Cuba, they enjoyed the experience.

Allen Funt’s reputation colored some people’s perception of what was really happening.

Your reputation precedes you and colors everyone’s perception of you.

I have an overactive sense of humor. I am notorious for bad puns and dad jokes. For several years on April Fools, I’d slip into my co-workers’ offices and place a small post-it note on the bottom of their computer mouse. The post-it note covers the optic sensor, and the mouse stops working. Yeah, I know. Hardy-har-har. I was always the first person suspected. My reputation preceded me.

Other things in life I take far more seriously. For example: my integrity and my walk with Christ. I want people’s perception of me to be colored by a reputation for being loving, gracious, and a man of my word—because their perception of me reflects on their perception of Jesus Christ.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches” (Prov. 22:1). 

Why is a good name so desirable? Because I am an ambassador of Christ. My name—my reputation—reflects on Him.

You are the light of the world…. let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14,16).

Based on your reputation, what do people perceive about you? What do they perceive about Jesus?

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