What is Character?
Character is the essence of a person, their inner truth, what they they actually are. A person’s character is based on their mental and moral qualities – who they are behind closed doors. A person can be successful in many areas in their life but without sound character, much like a home which has a cracked foundation, you will eventually crumble from the stresses of everyday life.
Character is not something that happens, it is something which is developed over a lifetime. To develop this in ourselves and our families, we have to take an honest look at what motivates us. Is it our values and beliefs or is it our desire to live up to a certain reputation? On that note, lets talk about the difference of character, and reputation. Abraham Lincoln gives a fitting example for this, “Character is like a tree, and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing”. We should make sure that what we truly value in life, our core beliefs, are what guide us in our decision making process and not reputation – reputation is merely a product of our character.
“Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; character is what the angels say about you before the throne of God.” – William Hersey Davis
Here are some helpful guidelines on character that I have recently read about and had a brief discussion about with my sons. Now, I can confidently say that I am a man of moral character; however, it is important to me that I continue to approach life with an open mind and to continue to improve myself as well as my family.
Things like common decency are not as common as we’d like them to be. The lack of integrity in today’s world is a crutch that we must remove. But what is integrity? Integrity is being honest to others, being honest to and about yourself, both inside, and outside.
Teaching integrity to our kids is best done by setting the example. However, there will come a time where you must sit your kids down, and have a long discussion on the subject. Author John C. Maxwell provides us with good questions to help measure your integrity. Ask yourself (or your kids):
1. How well do I treat people from whom I can gain nothing?
2. Do I role-play based on the person(s) I am with?
3. Do I quickly admit wrongdoing without being pressed to do so?
4. When I have something to say about people, do I talk to them or about them?
Using these questions could help you guide your discussion with your child. Recently, I had an evaluation of my own integrity. These questions brought to light several things which I would like to work on, and which I would like to share with my children.
Be accountable for your actions (character)
It is important that we understand that your actions, your integrity, and your character should not be guided by your circumstances. No matter what walk of life we come from, we have the freedom to make the decision whether we want to do right by others, or do wrong by others.
“Your circumstances are responsible for your character as a mirror is for your looks”. -John C Maxwell
Pay your dues by helping others
Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell said it best, “The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for room on this earth.” The bottom line is this: if we are not ready to render service to others, why should anyone (life itself) render service to us. The more positive effort we put forth in our life, the more likely we will experience positive outcomes.
Do what you should before you do what you want!
Part of being a person with sound character is having a good work ethic. Often times, we get caught up in the daily grind we call life. You’ll find that if you put first things first, you will achieve success in life. Zig Ziglar had a good outlook on this topic, “When you do the things you have to do when you have to do them, the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.”
In our earlier posts, we discussed how to improve focus, and minimize distractions so we can improve our quality of life. Part of this is making sure that we prioritize our lives, and make sure we take care of the needs first, so that we can fully enjoy our wants!
We hope that this information has been insightful. If you would like more posts like this, leave us a comment! We’d be happy to share anything that we can with you!
Some material from this post can also be found in the book: Becoming a Person of Influence by John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan. Maxwell Motivation Inc., California (1997).
Make the effort, do your part, fight to make your family better. This is what we’re all about.
Fight on Friends! – The Warrior Family
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