Is One of these Character Traits Holding You Back?

Something in your soul says you should be farther along than you are. You see others who seem to have so much more – a stronger marriage, a better job, a larger ministry, better health, a larger platform, a more vibrant spirituality. What do they have that you don’t have? Why does it seem so much easier for them?

A friend asked me that question last week, and it got me thinking. And I’m convinced that as unfair as life is, there’s a lot we can do about our own future. Could there be some character traits that are holding you back?

A smart education, good role models, and hard work are certainly important. But it’s not usually the best educated who have the most success. Some who work terribly hard never reach the goals they desire. God has different roles for each of us in His kingdom, of course. God’s favor certainly makes a difference, but does that mean He doesn’t think as highly of you if you’re not at the level you – or He – desire you to be? I don’t think so.

Character is one of the most important factors we can do something about. Character impacts your success not only in ministry, but at least as much in business, marriage, and life in general.

Consider these character traits that could be keeping you from the success you might otherwise have:

  1. Unwilling to learn. Education involves much more than the classroom. The best education comes from life experience that you then reflect on, evaluate, and adjust accordingly. How are other people responding to what you do or say? What can you learn about yourself, about the world, or about other people from your “failures?” Who has been down this road before you that can provide insight or advice?
  2. Blaming everyone else. A dysfunctional family, a poor education, limited financial resources, lack of support from others, government or church policy – it’s easy to find someone to blame. But that’s never useful. What choices DO you have? Have you made the best use of the options you do have? What if anything have you done or failed to do that has contributed to where you are right now?
  3. Negative thinking. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” (Henry Ford) Your biggest obstacles may be the ones inside your own mind. It’s easy to internalize all the negative messages you’re inundated with and think they’re the truth. What if you asked yourself what assumptions you have made about yourself, and then questioned all those assumptions? Could you be living out a negative script that isn’t even your own?
  4. Lack of integrity. It’s exhausting to try to be two or three different people. If your private self is different from your public self, at some point you will be found out. If your moral character is not deep and mature enough, it won’t be able to withstand the storms that come from greater opportunity, exposure, or responsibility. A tree’s roots must grow deep to support a tall structure that others can see.
  5. Using others instead of serving them. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, author of Thou Shalt Prosper, is known for saying “When you serve others, they will offer you certificates of appreciation with president’s faces on them” – dollar bills! Jesus came to serve, not to be served. (Matthew 20:28) When you come to believe and understand that everything is about THEM and not about you, at least some of your family, your customers, your clients, your listeners, your donors, your parishioners will respond gratefully, and will help you succeed at an even greater level.

These 5 character traits will destroy your effectiveness sooner or later. There may be other character qualities that are important also: courage, kindness, persistence, and more. The important thing is to look at your own heart and soul, allow God to grow you where needed, and never give up.

Your Turn: What character traits do you think are most important in success or failure in your family, business, or ministry? Leave a comment below. 

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