Character Counts

As I click the “publish” button to send this post off around the world, Norma Jean and I are on the way to the airport.  We’re heading to Ohio.  This week-end I’ll be spending time with a group of Christian men in a retreat.  We’ll eat. Laugh. Swap stories.  Enjoy great fellowship.  And we’ll sit around the fire and discuss our theme “The Character of a Man.”  I’m grateful to Dan DeGarmo and Matt Allen for the privilege of leading the devotional periods. 

As I’ve studied, thought and mediated on this topic, I’m been again reminded that character counts.  It’s important.  Needful.  Imperative.  But also for women.  And young people.  And kids.  Yes, that’s where it begins as parents sow spiritual seeds in the fertile soil of our children that will produce godly character.

Character building is a process. It is a combination of many influences. The daily decisions that we are making. Our thoughts.  Our influences. Our habits. Our prayer-life.  Our devotion.  Our mental growth.  Our emotional stability.  Our spiritual strength.  All of these contribute to the development of a strong character.

The measure of a man or woman is not what they do in moments of comfort and convenience, but how they respond to difficulty.  Tough decisions. Moral challenges.   D.L. Moody once said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Or what you are when no one is looking. Or what you are when life is tough. Or what you are when the circumstances seem to justify your behavior.

Character is the foundation of all other qualities. Goodness. Virtue. Honesty. Courage. Integrity. Purity. All of these and more are the fruit produced from the root of character. They are the handiwork of thoughts, influences, and relationships. The wise man wrote, “As he thinks in his heart so is he” (Prov 23:7). Yes, as Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” So Paul would admonish us to think on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and of good repute. And anything else that is virtuous and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). Indeed my character will never rise above my thoughts.

But remember this. “Character”, penned Rick Warren, “is never built in the classroom; it is built in the circumstances of life.” Yes, we can learn about and identify the qualities of character in the classroom, in the small group, and in the worship assembly. However, it is in the pressure-cooker of daily life as we respond to situations and circumstances that character is developed. When we apply what we have learned, and make the correct choices in “small issues” our character is formed. And repeated over and over character grows, and is strengthened. That is why Robert Freeman was right when he wrote, “Character is not made in a crisis, it is only exhibited.”

I’m excited about the week-end.  It’s been good for me to consider these qualities of character. So what about you? What kind of character are you developing? Do you need a course correction? What are you doing to supply your mind with the right kind of thoughts? And how are you applying what you know in your daily decisions?

The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, simply wrote, “Character is destiny.” Indeed it is.  Because character counts. What’s yours? And what’s mine?

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

3 Comments

Filed under character

3 responses to “Character Counts

  1. Excellent words Ken! Have a wonderful week!

  2. Fae Nolte

    Ken … my own definition for character “your quality of conviction that determines your mode of conduct” — works for me.

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