July 31, 2019
I am amazed that we don’t live in reality more often. Personally, I read about and watch people say things and do things and then play the confusion card because someone gives them a dose of reality. Then they feel hurt, confused, and baffled by the whole situation. They can’t imagine why anyone thought “that” of them, why anyone took it that way, and they feel victimized. Case in point: The news has recently told the story of Amanda Knox, exonerated on charges of killing her roommate in Italy and moving forward with her life. Good choice. Knox and fiancé Christopher Robinson have created a website seeking funds from family and friends to pay for their wedding. Not so good a choice. Now they are blaming people for criticizing them for explaining that they want a nice wedding and would appreciate their friends giving $10,000 worth of gifts to fund it. Really bad choice.
In my mind it comes back to this: People will do whatever you permit and allow them to get away with. The problem is, operating this way can easily become our default mode. Living this way will be a problem with people and their relationship with God.
Let me explain it this way: It’s called denial.
A couple is struggling in their marriage. One spouse has repeatedly communicated that there is a need for counseling. The other one consistently ignores or rejects the information they receive. One day they wake up to discover their spouse is leaving. They are caught off guard, confused, and baffled. They cry and can’t imagine why this is happening.
Take the person who has been coached and corrected in her workplace. She’s been told repeatedly there must be changes, but she feels she’s fine; just has an unreasonable manager. She finally gets called to the office and finds herself getting let go. She’s distraught and feels victimized.
Think about the person who posts something on social media from frustration, hoping for a specific response and instead gets called out for his inappropriateness. He goes on a new rant about how unbelievable it is that the world is so sensitive and self-righteous.
I could go on. But what’s the issue behind every situation like this? What does every situation boil down to?
Most of the fruit or results we get in life come directly from good character. Character comes from spiritual growth in the ways God has planned and given. Therefore, to make life work, focus on character growth first, not just results.
How do you do that? The first and most foundational thing is to admit that for life to work better, I need to grow.
Most people set out to succeed in life in two main areas: relationships and work (or goals). Usually, what they do is just launch into those arenas on autopilot. They commit themselves to work on relationships, expend effort, and try hard. Sometimes, in the work arena, they might even get a lot of training or schooling for their chosen field. But no matter how they prepare, they usually jump in and go for it, hoping to make it all work.
And that, from both research and the Bible’s perspective, is the problem. No matter how hard we try to make life work, no matter how much effort we put into it, we will always hit the ceiling that our character dictates. You have seen this time and again but maybe never thought it through. You can be brilliant and charming, for example, but if you lack the character to persevere and have courage, your career and relationships will suffer repeated blows. We can be talented, but if we are not trustworthy, people will not invest with us, support us, or want to be married to us for very long. You might have the best business idea in the world, get the greatest job, or find the most desirable mate in the world, but if you cannot confront problems and issues with calmness and integrity when they arise, your business and relationships will fail.
The ability to make life work requires much more than just honesty and ethics as a definition of character. It requires wholeness and maturity. When you have that, possess that, you can deal with life and be fruitful. You can have the appropriate action and response. The way people perceive you will not be confusing to you. You will have communicated with integrity. You will be the same character all the time. That is why the definition of character is broader than just ethical character. The Bible’s view is that mature character is able to deal with life and be fruitful in every area. Character is the ability to meet the demands of reality.
Life has a lot of realities: relational, financial, physical, internal, problems, obstacles, etc. The mature character is able to meet the demands of those realities calmly and strong, and be fruitful in the midst of them. As the Psalmist says, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:3).
Character is the real deal.