Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Character, What's That?

Bill Gothard explains character as:  "the inward motivation to do what is right according to the highest standards of behavior in every situation.
Character consists of the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life that determine his or her responses, regardless of the circumstances.
Character is the wise response to the pressure of a difficult situation and what we do when we think that no one is watching. It is the predictor of good behavior."

I've given a lot of thought to character lately and I've come to the conclusion that not everyone has a great character. Oh, don't worry, I'm not becoming jaded or cynical, I'm just stating a fact. But I am never content in knowing just the facts I want to know the why. Why are some lacking in character and others not? Why do some people choose to do the wrong thing, make the wrong choice, go down the wrong path and others don't?

I think one of the main reasons is because good character doesn't seem to be a priority in child rearing anymore. Character needs to be taught.Very few of the children that I come into contact with have manners anymore because they are not a priority in their home. Maybe you think that 'please' and 'thank you' are not important but they are in shaping a person's character because they teach appreciation, thankfulness, respect, humility and many other traits that we should want to instill in our children. 

It use to be that if a child got in trouble in school for cheating on a test or some other infraction, the parent would punish the child as well as the school. I can remember Gram Stultz, my husband's grandmother, tell me a story about a miner's son she taught as a school teacher in Springhill, N.S. She was a tiny little lady and the boy in question towered over her by head and shoulders. She was only sixteen years old, not much older than he was but she had the position of being his teacher. One particular day he refused to do his work. When she insisted that he do it, he sassed her. Not to be disrespected she grabbed him by the ear and lead him out of the class and gave him a shove towards the stairway which lead outside. 

The next day the boy and his very large and imposing father came to the classroom. The father apologized for his son's lack of respect and then made the son apologize in front of the class. The father assured her that his son would be no more trouble and he wasn't. Can you imagine that happening today? On the contrary, many times now when a child gets into trouble the parent is trying to get him excused from any consequences. That doesn't build up character. 

I once heard character explained in this simple way: "character is who you are when nobody's watching." Do you cheat? Do you lie? Do you seek short cuts to doing what is right? Are you honest? Are you trustworthy? Does your word mean something? What is your true character like? You may think that you've kept your true character hidden behind a mask which you've created but let me assure you that is not the case. Many times true character comes peeking out from it's hiding place. I believe God allows this to happen so that our sinful nature will be revealed and we can correct it. 

What will be said of you when you pass from this earth? Will your true character, your legacy, be one that you would be proud to leave behind? Will people know that you were honest, trustworthy, kind, humble, and all of the other good character traits which we should all aspire to? What is your character?

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