Weekly Thought – October 3, 2023
Fred wrote, spoke, and thought about character probably as much as any other subject. He once observed “I have rarely seen a person fail due to lack of training, but generally it is a lack of character. However, I have never had anyone come to me asking for help in building character, but many who asked for opportunities, training, coaching, and many other aids.”
Character and Perseverance
Character is built through perseverance. In Romans 5 we are taught of the grace progression from tribulation through perseverance to character and hope. Character is so much more important than personality. It I actually more important for intelligence and it defines how we use both of these assets. It is the seat of our values. It is the custodian of our will.
During a losing season with the Mavericks, Norm Sonju who was then the general manager said this was the “era of the north side of the tree.” He was referring to boat manufacturers who advertised they built their boats from lumber harvested from the north side of the trees for it has weathered the battering of storms. My mentor, Maxey Jarman used to refer to business downturns as “times that take the fat off of our souls.”
In exercise I am told the heart has to get above 150 beats per minute to be effective. I am convinced true character development requires a high degree of pressure. The heat purifies our character as it does metal. My friend Ed Drake reminded me : “Pounding play havoc with clay, but tempers steel.”
Character gives us the strength to stand under the most difficult challenges. Solzhenitsyn upon hearing that the Archbishop of Canterbury had said about communism: “Better red then dead,” replied: “Better dead than a scoundrel.”
Character tells where we will stand on issues, for how long, and for what price. Oswald Chambers warns if we can’t take the small test we will inevitably fail the larger ones. Many fool themselves into thinking that they may falter on the small, but will triumph in the big test – it just won’t happen.
Character is determined by who we are becoming through our choices, our experiences, and our accomplishments.
The good news is that character can grow, and does more so in trouble than in good times. It is common knowledge that a person or a society cannot endure continuous prosperity. Softness results.
As we experience our valleys we learn the place of prayer, the power of scripture, and the presence of the Spirit. Isaiah reported God’s words, “I will give you the treasure of darkness.” God is an artist who paints both in light and dark colors. Malcolm Muggeridge noted “if affliction were eliminated, it would not make life delectable, but banal and trivial.”
This week carefully consider: 1) What am I learning in both the light and dark seasons? 2) How can I assess the areas of character which need strengthening? 3) Why do I think Fred focused so much on the importance of character?
Words of Wisdom: “The good news is that character can grow, and does more so in trouble than in good times.”
Wisdom from the Word; “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage – I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33 NET Bible)