In some ways your character is like your closet, your car, or your bank account. Of course it’s much more valuable than any of those. Thinking of your character in those terms, however, helps make a number of things clearer. If you want to grow your character or help others grow theirs, you must be intentional about it.
You don’t want to be caught with a cluttered, run down, or bankrupt character. At some point your character will be challenged. Someone will treat you badly. You’ll face a tragedy in your personal or professional life. An opportunity will present itself for you to make dishonest money or to have an affair. There won’t be time for a Bible study course or six months of professional counseling before you’re forced to make a decision. Who you really are inside at that moment – your character – will determine what you do.
How do you go about growing your character so that you’ll have what it takes to pass those tests when they come? At least these 5 things are important. And they apply just as much to growing character in those you’re responsible for, such as children, students, parishioners, or employees.
- Spend time around others with good character. You really will become like the people you spend the most time around. No other human being is perfect, but consider the character of the people you’re with. Invest time and energy to be around people whose character you want to emulate, such as those with courage, kindness, faith, integrity, generosity, excellence, and love. “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
- Clean out the trash. The media you consume flavors your character. Consider what attitudes are displayed in the music, movies, internet sites, or books you consume toward such things as violence, family, women, faith, sexuality, stewardship, generosity, and godliness. That doesn’t mean you must become prudish, but a mental closet full of trash may not come through a rigorous character challenge intact.
- Fix problems quickly. Don’t let that rattle in your character turn into an engine meltdown. Most of us struggle with some ongoing weakness or sin; deal with it early. Don’t overlook the little danger signs. Deal with the bigger issues in your own heart or the heart of those you care for. If something is bleeding your character equity, stop the bleeding first. Then work on rebuilding. Get help if you need to!
- Make regular deposits. Regularly fill your soul with high-quality input and the character interest will accrue to your benefit. Read books or watch documentaries about great people. Spend time daily reading God’s word. Observe God’s work in nature and other people’s lives. Consciously practice things like saying No, being kind or generous, taking a calculated risk, or acting with integrity when no one else will know.
- Stretch yourself, and let God stretch you. Remain teachable. What was OK between you and God in the past may become unacceptable as He continues to grow you. While perfection is not something we can attain here, we can expect our character to become increasingly Christlike the longer we walk with Him. Don’t consider your character to ever be completed. Expect God to continue to work on you, and be open to quality feedback from others. (Philippians 3:13-14)
The best way to grow your character is to remain in God’s presence. And by keeping your attention fixed on Him, you will become changed.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Your Turn: What kind of deposits are you making into your character? Do you need to clean out any trash? Leave a comment below.
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- Your character is like your closet and your car; clean out the trash, and do regular maintenance. Tweet that.
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