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Monday, April 3, 2017

Yup, I am a little character!

Booker T. Washington said, "Character is power." A very simple statement, but yet it carries such a deeper meaning. He also said, "Success is to be measured not so much by the position one reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome." Character is formed because the obstacles exist, my friend. It is impossible to develop strong, trusting, and well-founded character where there has been no "testing" of that character. Character doesn't just "happen" - it doesn't just fall into place one day in our lives. It is because we have been tested on all accounts and found lacking in nothing!

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. (I Peter 5:8-9 NLT)

I would have liked the diploma without all the tests, but it just doesn't work that way. I would have liked the benefits of a healthy body without the sacrifices of eating right and exercising, but I wasn't achieving it without those right choices and actions. Character is about both - the right choices and the purposeful actions that are going to help us to "pass the test" when it comes down to the wire a lot of times. 

Character distinguishes each of us from one another - it is what others see when they look at us - what our actions reveal about what it is we truly trust in the most. It is what separates us from the herd, so to speak. The character of a man (or woman) is not just "earned" - it has to first be "learned". We go through the sometimes way too long of these times of training because in the end we hope to see the outcome of what we have been learning along the pathway to "strong character". In God's economy, we don't "invest" without a return.

Just a few thoughts about character using a little acrostic:

Commitment - character begins with the commitment we make in our hearts and minds. Without the commitment of heart, the mind will wander - without the focus of the mind, the heart will be scattered.

Humility - character is largely built upon total honesty and this requires unashamed humility. While it is not always the easiest course to take, being honest is usually the most rewarded course. Humility of spirit is essential to us letting go of things we need to be free of and taking hold of the assistance we need in order to embrace the stuff we so need.

Attitude - character is always displayed in our attitude. For just a moment in time, our attitude may stink a little, but if we have real depth of character, our attitude will soon "adjust" to one which is less "me" centered and begins to respond according to the plan God has for our lives.

Respect - character is about respecting yourself too much to allow yourself to be duped into following a lie, or to be quiet when you know you should speak up. Respect is about having the right esteem for the things that matter and a lack of regard for those things we'd do well to just ignore.

Action - character requires action - time and time again, with consistency. We don't truly learn until we have developed the consistency of doing things the way they were intended to be done.

Control - character isn't about us always being in control, but it is about knowing who is in control even when things are spinning around us.

Trust - character is often clearly displayed in where it is we put our trust. What we choose to focus upon, relying upon as a foundation for each step we take - this is what we trust the most. If we are to have reliable character, it must be the foundation of Christ and nothing else.

Effort - character isn't just "granted" or "given" - it is earned over the course of time. Effort is required - not because we are called to make ourselves strong or upright, but because denying self frequently enough to realize God has a different plan to develop character in our lives takes a little more effort than we might first realize.

Reward - character end in great reward. It doesn't come to us "up front", but over the course of time. It is developed, not just dropped into us. The reward isn't a trophy in a display case or a diploma on the wall - it is a life solidly founded, not easily shaken, and held firm in the midst of what others may see as daunting forces that come against us.

Character is more about who we become as we walk with Jesus day by day. If we want to be men and women of strong, vibrant, and reliable character, we need to draw close to the one who can create this kind of character in us. Just sayin!