Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power – Abraham Lincoln
Let’s face it. It’s easy to get angry, cynical, guarded, and stingy in a crooked world. If you don’t believe in evil, you can stop reading right now. But if you like to think in a positive, grateful, and proactive way, yet recognize the condition of the world is not quite up to par, continue reading.
Like you, my positive belief in people can be shattered in a moment and if I’m not careful, it will plant itself in my heart and take up residence. How do we keep a level head in a world filled with so-called friends who do not tell the truth and people who strap bombs on their person for the sake of some god that can’t seem to do his own fighting? Wow, that question is filled with darkness!
Anyway, in just the past 4 weeks, I have experienced two dishonest business transactions. One of them included the often-heard phrase, “Its just business.” I couldn’t believe my ears! My mind disagreed. I heard it say, “No, that’s called lying by omission.” You don’t need to know the details; I simply met ANOTHER business owner who lost his mind and used a business platitude to rationalize and console self.
It can make me mad. Yes, even pastors get mad. The good news is my passion for people has increased. It was the realization of my own lack of Character that God used to draw me to himself. I knew then and I know now that I am a sinner capable of great good and desperately wicked things. That’s why Bible reading and prayer is a regular part of my daily breathing. Not because I’m so saintly – no, because I need it. And these 50 years of life have brought me where I am today. I’m committed to rise up the banner of faith and character – in the church (which needs it more than ever) and in the marketplace.
If you’re not a follower of Jesus… don’t shut me off just yet. Keep on reading. So, back to the question: “How do we keep our heads on straight in a crooked world?” Dear friend, how are you going to keep from selling your soul to the Devil (metaphorically for those who do not believe in the little monster and literally for those who do) for money, sex, pride, or whatever? How?
You will do it by working on your life! Not just in your life but on your life. With God’s help, I challenge you to work on your life! I’m talking about character. You are a character. So am I. But what kind of character are you?
It should go without saying; however, character is not passive. It is not benign. It is the place where you store your true identity. It has the potential to virus anything it comes in contact with, even to the third and fourth generation. Character is a tool or a weapon. To understand more, let’s do some research.
The following sentence and basic ideas come from Phillip Eastman in his work The Character of Leadership An Ancient Model for a Quantum Age.
Aristotle and his contemporaries determined that character was made up of four virtues: Justice, Courage, Wisdom, and Temperance. These explained the essence of a person.
The ancient philosopher’s model was supplemented 2000 years ago by the arrival of a new branch of Judaism that would eventually become known as Christianity. The leaders of this movement did not argue against this model but added three more elements: faith, hope, and love.
Here’s what I am suggesting. Working on our lives, at least in part, is to understand character, which is to study the definitions and practices of justice, wisdom, courage, temperance, faith, hope, and love. The next step is to evaluate self along with a few close and trusted friends, create a development plan, practice it, and then re-evaluate.
The articles that will follow this one will examine each element of character according to this model. We will define them and provide examples to be applied in every day life. Our hope is that involvement in and through this process will help you keep your head on straight in a world gone side-ways.