During President Clinton’s dark time, a news reporter tried to pull George Bush, Sr., the previous President, into a Clinton-bashing session. Bush offered only two powerful words: “Character Counts”.
Character is the set of outward-facing qualities that tell our friends, our families, and the world who we really are on the inside. Character is the reflection of what is really at the center of our heart. It’s not about the words we speak, as anybody can say anything to mislead, pose, or evade the truth, intentionally or unintentionally. Character is about how we actually live our lives, not what we tell people we would do in a given situation. What we actually do, our outward behavior, reveals the attitudes and motivators in our heart.
Anybody can wear a mask to hide the true nature of what is on the inside. This makes it difficult to know, rely on, or trust someone. But this is where pressure, stress, life’s storms, and adversity come into play and show their value. You see, it is much more difficult to put on a mask in the midst of challenging circumstances … it’s often during those storms that people’s true colors are revealed. What’s exposed either makes us interesting and more attractive, or reveals some inner ugliness!
Pressure and adversity push what’s inside us up to the surface. Storms reveal whether our coping mechanisms are mature or immature. Most importantly, difficulties cut through all the layers to expose who is on the throne of our heart, God or self. We have talked many times about how decision-making gets very warped when me-centered propaganda is the basis of decisions, and that is a hallmark of “poor character.”
So how do we develop Character? In Romans 5:3-4 Paul teaches us that suffering produces character. While it is admittedly difficult, try to see and be thankful for the fact that God is using life’s difficulties … and Satan’s attacks … to build your character. God brings storms to 1. build character; 2. show us what is at the center of our heart; or 3. allow us to succeed through the adversity, shining His glory to others to guide them through their storms. Then practice the Decision-Making skills we teach in WITHIN REACH.
Today, take notice when things don’t go your way. What does your behavior reveal about the character of your heart? What is your knee-jerk response? If you acted on the first thought that came to mind, what would you learn about your heart? You can build character, but it will take intentionality and practice. Better to practice building character, because otherwise you practice being a me-centered slug by default. Your decision, choose well.
Dear Father, Thank You, God, for the opportunities You give me to grow in Your strength through my difficulties. I pray that You help me develop character that pleases You and allows me to be an example of a good child of Yours. I confess, Lord, that I spend too much time and energy on my image management. Help me shift that effort to improving my character. Suffering and difficulty seem to be the norm for me rather than the exception. Help me, Father, to use them to build perseverance … and use perseverance to build my character. With Godly character, hope will be strong and abundant. I ask in the name of our Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7