You may think you or your teen-aged son deserves the honor, but this year's winner of the Rotten Sneaker Contest is Daegan Goodman. The ten-year-old from Montpelier, Vermont, has been judged to have the smelliest, grungiest, nastiest pair of sneakers in the country. He beat out eight other finalists!

His simple formula for success was put this way: "I just wear 'em, sweat in 'em, play sports." Spoken like a true champion. Modest. Unassuming. Not claiming too much for himself. "I just try," he said.

You've figured it out by now. The stinky-shoe contest is a gimmick thought up by a Vermont store back in 1975. It was another way for a sporting goods store to try to sell athletic shoes. A national company – Odor-Eaters, wouldn't you know! – took over sponsorship of the event in 1988. And it gets publicity across the country during slow news periods.

I think Daegan's achievement with the smelly feet is the sort of thing somebody had in mind when the term "dubious distinction" was coined. The episode set me to thinking about how we "make a name" for ourselves. What people associate with us. How we are going to be remembered.

Do any of these names ring a bell: Jezebel, Billy the Kid, Benedict Arnold, Eva Braun, Lee Harvey Oswald, Idi Amin, Jack Kevorkian? What about the ones in this list: Socrates, Dorcas, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, Jonas Salk? No matter the length or brevity of a life, it is likely to be remembered by a defining event or dominant trait.

Some families will remember a particular member by infidelity or desertion or abuse; others by unselfishness or self-denial or a gentle spirit. Some companies enshrine names for creativity and hard work, mentoring others and encouraging them; some blush over dishonesty and ruthlessness, egotism and greed. Some churches follow healthy leaders who model integrity, faith, and love; others die for lack of focus on gospel, community, and grace.

Your place in the lives of those who know you best is being defined daily.
Daegan won a trophy, a savings bond, and a new pair of sneakers. We can only hope that the full story of his life achieves ever-more-fragrant success.

Your place in the lives of those who know you best is being defined daily by things that matter to you. Values you model. How you treat people. If you focus on being a person of real character, your reputation will take care of itself.

God has shown us how kind he is by coming to save all people. He taught us to give up our wicked ways and our worldly desires and to live decent and honest lives in this world. We are filled with hope, as we wait for the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself to rescue us from everything that is evil and to make our hearts pure. He wanted us to be his own people and to be eager to do right. Titus 2:11-14