Developing and Keeping Character

July 24, 2020

Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NLT

My dad used to say when we were growing up, “You can either have friends with character or friends who ARE characters. They won’t be the same.” Referring to someone as “a character” was his polite and careful way of saying, “He might be fun, he might make you laugh, but he’s not going to take you to good places.”

When our children were young, my husband would call out to them every time they left for the evening, “Remember you are a Young.” He was reminding them that we were a family who wanted to be accurately known by a reputation for good character, and that none of their choices should compromise that.

Both Dad and my husband were trying to teach the wisdom of this verse. The people you hang with, the people with whom you spend your time, they make your reputation, they shape what people think of you, but more importantly than that, they have a tremendous impact on what your character actually becomes. You may think that you are an unusually strong person, and you can be the one who stands strong against bad influences. You can just have fun, just listen, just “hang,” and it will make no difference. That assumption will let you down. Character grows by osmosis, and “bad character corrupts good company.” It may happen so slowly that you don’t realize it, but eventually others will see that you have picked up many of the traits and values of the people with whom you have spent your time.

The other side of that is true as well. If you spend your priority time with people who have the values of great character, you will find yourself admiring, respecting, and looking up to them. Over time, you will grow into their values and character. That is why we were careful to bring the best people we knew into our home as dinner guests and overnight guests. We sent our kids to great, character-developing summer camps, worked with good teachers, and kept them in church around the best people we knew. For our sons’ 18th birthdays, we had special celebrations and asked them to invite their 18 most admired men. The men were all godly family members, teachers, coaches, church friends—the good people with whom they had spent the most time. What a tribute to these men!

It never changes. The disciples became who they were because they spent time with Jesus. Work on godly character today by spending time with godly people.

  • Whose character do you most reflect? Who is reflecting yours? Are you becoming more character-filled and helping others grow too?