Character versus Reputation

Ideally, character is the sum of the moral and mental qualities that distinguish an individual, the individuality impressed by nature or habit on man, mental or moral constitution.Oxford English Dictionary
  Character is the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another, a distinguishing feature or attribute, moral or ethical strength, uprightness, a description of a person’s attributes, traits, or abilities.Oxford English Dictionary
  Reputation, on the other hand, is defined as the general estimation in which a person is held by the public, the common or general estimate of a person with respect to character or other qualities, the honor or credit of a particular person, one’s good name in general.Oxford English Dictionary

“Character is what you develop and express of the soul virtues in one lifetime, which is then added to your soul as an aggregate of experience and development.”–Edna Lister

  Character versus reputation names the contrast between the soul and the self image. Character is the outgrowth of your accrued inner qualities, the objective truth of reality of your being. Reputation is a worldly assessment, based on the subjective truth of appearances.

Edna Lister on Character versus Reputation

Love builds character.–Edna Lister, Learning to Live at Peace, November 11, 1934.

In erecting a structure, you immediately see the need for building on a solid foundation; it must be solid enough to reach the skies, and to be so, you must clear out the rubbish. Character building is similar: If you build on a poor foundation, with even one faulty brick, the structure must fall. Use principles as your building blocks, not personality.–Edna Lister, Making Plain the Way, December 9, 1934

Everyone builds a reputation, which is the world’s gift, bestowed in the world and by the world. Character is God’s gift, God-given. You receive the results of reputation and character, based on your own efforts.–Edna Lister, June 15, 1935

We began as unconscious individual manifestations of God, who must become conscious. We can add only consciousness, and we return to God with the consciousness we have accrued, as character.–Edna Lister, The Temple of the Soul, June 19, 1935

Character is the sum of your past, written indelibly on your face, body and affairs. As a child put it, character is something good on the inside that shows on the outside. You build character day by day with how you live life.–Edna Lister, Character, January 26, 1936

Character is the soul, using your faculties and form as its mediums of expression, and is all that you take with you from this life. You develop character as you express the soul virtues. Character must be threefold in expression. First, your character expresses through your form, in the image and likeness of God. Second, your character, to be immortal and lasting, must express through your emotions, impulses and mental processes. Third, character must reveal the secrets of soul to the external world through facial expressions, the language of eyes, handwriting, and your tones of voice.–Edna Lister, Building Character, April 18, 1936

You can build character only on strength, not weakness.–Edna Lister, October 18, 1936

Gratitude is the greatest of soul qualities, completely lacking in destructive character.–Edna Lister, November 21, 1937

It profits you not at all to be found exalted in reputation on earth and in such way lose character of soul in heaven.–Edna Lister, August 1, 1938

To stop using force of any kind is an important point in polishing character.–Edna Lister, February 2, 1940

The prefix en- of ensample means in, upon, and giving intensity. The prefix ex- in example means out. An ensample signifies expression from within character. An example is an attitude on the outside, which is why some people think, What will they think? What will it get me? An example is a pose for gain, an attitude assumed to please another. Examples are meant to enhance the veneer of one’s reputation. An ensample is what you really are. If you set an example, you are self-conscious, but when you are an ensample, you are soul-conscious.–Edna Lister, Heavenly Manna, July 8, 1940

No soul always emits the same lights (the aura’s radiance and hues), for lights change with each passing emotion. However, definite constant undercurrents of light reveal a soul’s basic character.–Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941

For the sacrament of baptism, you are given sponsors. For the sacrament of confirmation, you yourself become personally responsible.
  If the embodied soul makes a new covenant with God at the confirmation, he will also make new vows. The soul will experience new devotion to service, new surrender to God and renewed responsibility toward God and humanity.
  If the soul is enthralled with its possessions and the affairs of the creature self, no Light from the Oversoul Star can descend or penetrate the consciousness. No depth of character develops, and the embodied soul remains shallowly aware only of the self.–Edna Lister, October 6, 1946

As the mature mental processes awaken in the embodied soul, you unfold who you are, where you came from and why you are here, then you may be reborn into greater action.
  You are now more interested in living by character than by reputation. You accept your responsibility in the spiritual fourth dimension. For example, will you work for peace or starve while waiting for someone else to do the job?
  The Godlike character of Jesus Christ belongs to everyone, but each soul must develop it.–Edna Lister, January 19, 1947

You can perceive love’s outstanding characteristics: You can see it in the other person’s eyes, feel it in their touch and hear it in their voice.–Edna Lister, Love, May 11, 1947

The soul’s character expresses its individuality, but personality reflects the soul.–Edna Lister, September 24, 1950

The child takes on the characteristics of both parents as it grows. When it stands upright, it begins to depend on itself, becoming the one that symbolizes individuality. With two you must agree and adjust with another in relationship to your self. Three introduces your third dimensional nature, your character given of God. Three symbolizes perfected personal expression. The character of the appetitive soul, the little self, is an aggregate of all incarnations. When appetitive soul is subject to Oversoul, nothing can stop you.–Edna Lister, June 12, 1951

As a soul inhabiting a creature body, you induct through the five senses unconsciously. When you consciously synthesize the five senses, you can read a person’s entire character when you shake hands.–Edna Lister, July 19, 1951

All the good character and personality traits, such as graciousness, loveliness, compassion, and dignity, come from loving God and obeying law.–Edna Lister, June 20, 1954

Your life is all an externalization of that in which you place your faith. Do not curse what you don’t want, but bless it. A psychological law is that you may not be negative about anything, a character trait, person or situation, and have it turn out right. It is not what the position does for you, but what you do for the position. This is your life, and you can do what you choose.–Edna Lister, June 19, 1955

The Gospels contain the keys to every possible combination of personality characteristics, and to every situation that could arise on earth. Jesus taught divine laws to cover every contingency.–Edna Lister, August 7, 1955

Your treasures in heaven are joy, faith, love, expectancy, devotion, compassion, understanding, and all the soul qualities, which we group together and call character. Your outer worldly treasures are material things and possessions, reputation, place and position. Reputation is what others think of you from reading your outer form—physical appearance, clothes, speech and actions. Your reputation may be true or untrue. Your character is true to the soul of you.–Edna Lister, Your Treasures, January 15, 1956

Jesus knew that everything he said during Holy Week had to ring down through the centuries. Contrast his public statements, I and the Father are one. He who has seen me has seen the Father. I am the Son of God, with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
  Greatest of all, he needed to practice complete selflessness in order to show us a "living ensample" of how to handle being honored and praised, as well as exalted on the outer. He let them exalt him from the back of a tiny colt, with his face on a level with theirs.
  Jesus was not afraid that their praise and the honor they did him would go to his head. He surrendered to the Father in soul-selflessness. Twenty centuries later we still use the character model he left for us.–Edna Lister, March 25, 1956

Self-expression builds itself an outer reputation, but soul-expression reveals character, which you intuit as being true in another.–Edna Lister, I Ascend, April 8, 1956

You build character based on increasing strength that dares to exceed itself each time life calls on you to do something unusual.–Edna Lister, April 22, 1956

Jesus epitomized four character traits: He had no reputation, he was a servant, he humbled himself before all, and he was obedient unto death.–Edna Lister, June 17, 1956

Individuality refers to your soul’s inner character. It describes your conscious identification with your Source, your identity and the nature of your character as an individual apart from the whole, yet forever part of it. Personality refers to your outer expression of the inner soul.–Edna Lister, October 6, 1957.

If you want to cast off your chains of bondage to the world, yoy must cast off your enslavement to low character traits. Allow nothing of outer negativity to touch your heart. For example, never allow words spoken in hatred to enter your heart. When you do, you invite a negative guest to live with you.–Edna Lister, November 10, 1957

Though the challenge you face may seem more than you can bear, you will find that if you live each day to the best of your ability, then analyze today’s best and know it isn’t good enough for tomorrow, you will ascend, step by step, until you have conquered the very challenge you thought you could not meet. The fear and dread of it you once felt has passed. Looking back, you see that it was not the giant you had imagined it to be. This is how to recognize the growth of character and spirit.–Edna Lister, June 1958

Living by the rule of the Beatitudes will make you letter-perfect in character.–Edna Lister, June 15, 1958

The twelve Labors of Hercules, even as mythology, dealt with the unseen world for the strengthening of character, overcoming challenges, proving oneself an adult and assuming the responsibilities of adulthood.–Edna Lister, June 1958

Character is what you develop and express of the soul virtues in one lifetime, which is then added to your soul as an aggregate of experience and development.–Edna Lister, Is it Right to Ask for Myself? June 14, 1960

To transfigure means to change the form of your character and personality expression, or to change form in outer manifestation.–Edna Lister, December 15, 1963

Character and reputation are distinctly different: Reputation is that which a person builds by doing a certain thing because it is the politic thing to do to gain approval and to please the masses. People build reputation from the others’ opinions and prejudices in seeking to present themselves favorably to the world. Character is the direct expression of the qualities, attributes and unfoldment of the soul; it is invisible, yet its cumulative results show. All outer expression is the result of your past living and it shows in your physical form.
  Character is the result of how you live by honor and integrity, and how you apply law. Reputation uses Power, but God’s Power uses character. Character is the soul’s expression, while reputation is the self’s expression. You always operate under the rule of a just appraisal, and must apply the law of a just appraisal. Since both reputation and character have written themselves on your outer form, the only visible element about you, physical appearance is available to give you a key to the inner. You must have some idea of what the visible form tells you. Everyone has a reputation he has earned by pleasing the boss, co-workers, friends and other people. Sadly, your reputation may bury your character.–Edna Lister, Character Analysis: How to Make a Just Appraisal, May 14, 1968

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New Testament on Character versus Reputation

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.–John 2:23-25

Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.–John 10:24-30

We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.–Romans 5:3-4

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men–Philippians 2:5-7

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Old Testament on Character versus Reputation

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

The Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature [reputation]; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart [character].–1 Samuel 16:7

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Edna Miriam Lister
The original Pioneering Mystic,
Christian Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of character: Greek kharaktēr engraved mark, symbol or imprint on the soul, properly instrument for marking, from kharassein to engrave. The meaning of Greek kharaktēr was extended by metaphor to a defining quality, individual feature.

Etymology of reputation: Latin reputationem a reckoning, consideration, a thinking over, from stem of reputare reflect upon, reckon, count over. This is from re-, perhaps repeatedly + putare to judge, suppose, believe, suspect, originally to clean, trim, prune.

Character and reputation are abstract principles, rooted in the Love Emanation.

Character and reputation are laws of being.

Character and reputation are laws of doing.


Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.–Helen Keller

Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.…We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps a man’s character was like a tree, and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.–Abraham Lincoln

We shall be just as happy hereafter, as we are pure and upright, and no more, just as happy as our character prepares us to be, and no more. Our moral, like our mental character, is not formed in a moment; it is the habit of our minds; the result of many thoughts and feelings and efforts, bound together by many natural and strong ties.–Albert Pike


Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Keller, Helen. Helen Keller's Journal, 1936-1937, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc. 1938 p. 60.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Purpose of Education, MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

Lincoln, Abraham. Character, as quoted by Brooks, in Scribner’s Monthly, August 1879, p. 586.

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Pike, Albert. Morals and Dogma. Charleston, SC: 1871, p. 145.

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Labors of Herakles