Character is a concept that we like to talk about but, for the most part, don’t really understand.
Some say that character is nothing more than the way one is perceived by the world. This superficial view of character does not judge a person based on what they really are, but instead on what they can hide while putting up the best possible image of themselves. This leads to isolation and fear when real help is needed because it is based on a complete lack of transparency.
Others, in a way that I believe is closer to the truth, say that character is having the grit or determination to do the right thing when no one is watching. This is definitely a better understanding of character, but doing “the right thing” can be extremely subjective if we are the one determining what is right and what is wrong. If I decide that something is not “right”, I can just quit. Whether others are watching or not.
Well then what is character?
There are several verses in the Bible that can help us to understand this, but here are two that make it pretty clear:
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
These verses and others help us to understand that the highest calling for man is living in a way that brings glory to God. In all things, regardless of circumstance, we should live in a way that reflects our Creator. With that in mind my simple definition of “Character” is this:
Character is living a life focused on pursing God’s path for our lives given in Scripture regardless of the thoughts, opinions, or responses of others.
Character is doing right even when no one else is looking but it is allowing God to determine what is “Right” (and realizing that He is always watching)! Practically this means that, if we are acting from a place of character, we will be the Husband or Wife, Parent, Employee or Citizen that God wants us to be even if those who should support us and respond well do not. A person of character is completely committed to living their life according to God and His Word.
How Is Character Built?
If you want to become a person of character there are a few things that you must do.
- Begin with a relationship with God. If you are not sure what it means to have a relationship with God reach out to someone that you know is a Christian. A few years ago I taught a class explaining salvation that may be a help ( https://youtu.be/7D_-Eigd0w4 ), but even better if you can connect with someone who can really help you to understand what that means. If character is living according to Gods plan for our lives, then it is essential that we begin by having a relationship with Him.
- Decide that you are going to live your life according to Scripture. This may sound a bit simplistic, but there is tremendous power in deciding what you are going to do before you need to do it. This is not to suggest that you will never fail or make a mistake, only that you are not waiting for difficult times to come before deciding what you are going to do. Decide to follow God and His Word.
- Again, this may sound pretty simple, but you need to read the Bible! How can you live according to the principles of the Bible (Scripture) if you don’t know what it says. If you are new to Bible reading I would suggest starting in the New Testament Gospel of John. This incredible Bible Book outlines the life of Christ and much of His teaching. There are also helps available like the Youversion Bible app that have Bible reading plans on just about every topic.
- Find a Bible teaching church and get involved. You need to have other believers in your life to help you learn and grow in your relationship with God and in a life of character. Find a church but don’t simply attend on Sunday. Plug in. Get involved. Make connections that will help you to grow.
- Make yourself accountable. I have written about that here: https://www.jeremystalnecker.com/2022/02/02/accountability-matters/ and did a podcast here: https://anchor.fm/jeremystalnecker/episodes/March-or-Die-Accountability-Matters-e1dt0ti but accountability may be the key that keeps you moving forward, doing what you know is right, when it would be easier to quit. Accountability and Character go hand in hand and I have never known a person of true integrity who did not also make themselves accountable.
Are you a person of character? Character is that quality in a person that keeps them focused on following God’s plan for their life regardless of what may be happening in the rest of the world. Do you want to March at those times when it would be easier to stay where you are and Die? Grow into a God following person of Character.