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Character?

Character is something of an intangible thing that we all desire.  Character is important to all of us no matter what walk of life we come from.  Every person desires the people that they relate to and do business with to have good character.  This is evident by the types of people we look up to and admire.  People like

  • Gandhi
  • Martin Luther King
  • Mother Teresa
  • Billy Graham
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • and many others

The importance of character is also made evident when we find it lacking in those around us.  Whether it be people of importance in society, or simply the people we relate to we are disappointed when we find a lack of character in others.  Having good character is important to us.

But what is character?  How do we know if we have character?  How do we know what type of character we have?  How do I develop my character?  These are questions I have asked, and a great many others have been asking as well.

We most often define character by listing a series of admirable traits that we desire to have.  Traits like Responsibility,  Faithfulness, Honesty, Courage, Loyalty. And this is just a few.  We also look negatively on the traits that reveal a lack of character in us like Dishonesty, Cowardice, Rebellious, Apathetic, Lazy. But character cannot be defined by listing a series of traits.

So what is character?  It seems to defy definition.  One of the other ways we try to define character is to look at the lives of people who demonstrate good character.  If you watch NCIS you know the character Jethro Gibbs to be a man of character.  One of my favorite movies is Braveheart, and William Wallace is a man who stood in the face of great opposition and changed the world he lived in because of the strength of his character.  People of good character inspire us to rise above ourselves, and challenge us to become better.

But what is character?  Like many others I had difficulty defining what character really is.  Until I heard Andy Stanley preach on character.  He said “Character is the will to do what is right, no matter what the cost.” Finally I was able to define what character is.  All of  the people we admire who changed the world around them were people of character.  People who chose to do what is right, no matter what it cost them personally.

Living a life of character is costly to us personally.  The question is will we pay the cost.  The rewards greatly exceed the price we pay.  This is the question before us on a daily basis.  Will we “have the will to do what is right, no matter what the cost.”  This is a question only we can answer.  No one can develop character for us.  Only we can decide to rise to the occasion before us, or to remain in the shadows of mediocrity.

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