PRESTIGE: (Noun)  status  .  standing  . stature  reputation  .  renown  .  fame

What comes to your mind when you think of the word prestigious?  Does it conjure up images of  things, or of people,  of position, or of groups?  Maybe all of the  above?  The word has a big draw for most people, although many will be very quick to say, “It doesn’t matter to me.” But the next time you are in a group of professionals, try to talk less and listen more and then come to your conclusion about whether prestige matters.

I would like to believe that everyone who reads my weekly post has read my book Breaking Away. If you haven’t read it, I am giving you a gentle hint  to get a copy. In the book you will be introduced to Dr. Harold Drinkwater, president of New Lebanon College, and his academic dean, Spencer Burns. Together they make a formidable team bent on raising their little Bible college out of academic obscurity up to the heights of  national acceptance and renown. Obsessed with the desirability of intellectual prestige, they discard the school’s traditions and compromise its spiritual values.  Integrity takes a back seat in the pursuit of their goal, and they barter the college’s spirituality for the status of heading an institution with  a stellar reputation in the academic world.

Today there are many people who are willing to do just about anything to gain prestige. In the past few weeks, a story has been  in the news  that shows how far some individuals are willing to go to gain status. What is being called “the greatest college admissions cheating scandal in U.S. history” has rocked academia.  To date, 50 people have been indicted in a scam in which some parents were willing to pay huge sums  so that  their undeserving children could attend a prestigious university. The parents paid thousands of dollars to athletic coaches and others in return for false applications to get their children in through what has been referred to as “the side door” to the institutions. Some youngsters had their SAT and ACT scores altered so that they could attend an Ivy League university. Some got accepted based on athletic scholarships for sports they didn’t play or played poorly.

How many people fall for the prestige label, trying  to be part of a group that is considered a cut above the rest of humankind! They seem to believe in the motto of the pigs in George Orwell’s  satiric Animal Farm. At the outset, the animals  created a motto for everyone in their community to live by. It said,  “All animals are equal.” After a time, with the success of their farm venture, the pig leaders of the group  evolved a new motto: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”  That motto runs counter to the egalitarian principle  that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. Based on this kind of thinking, we would expect that the portals of higher academic institutions are open to anyone who qualifies legitimately, not just the few who have the wherewithal to pay to circumvent the rules. If those financially well-off parents,  many of whom now face jail sentences,  had thought in terms of equality instead of prestige, they wouldn’t have entered into a scheme to get their children enrolled in top-flight universities in a fraudulent way.

True, we don’t all have the same intellectual gifts, but we all have the opportunity to use the gifts  God has given us to achieve success in any endeavor of our choice. What He has gifted us with, if used wisely,  can establish us as successful and worthy of recognition. We don’t have to seek for acceptance through a false concept of  what it means to have  status in the world.




Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.