Weekly Thought – January 12, 2021
Fred understood everyone had a mixture of clay and iron. Someone asked him how he could develop a strong friendship with a man others found difficult. “I am attracted to the magnetic draw of the iron; you are pushed away by the clay.” He knew how to measure character and highly valued integrity.
Thank you for your faithful support during 2020. Please pray for BWFLI as we approach our Christian colleges and universities, making plans for the new virtual format.
Window into Character
It would be helpful if we could have a load-limit sign on our character like those on bridges. One of my preacher friends was coming under the influence of an extremely wealthy parishioner. As my friend was plied with benefits of the relationship, the person began asking questionable favors. My friend broke off the relationship saying, “I am afraid I have a price, and you’re getting too close to it.”
Character is a set of values we have chosen to live by, and hopefully ones that will work under pressure. It reminds me of the professional golfers who speak of wanting a golf swing “that will work on Sunday,” meaning one that works under pressure.
As a leader, a friend, or a mentor, I try to validate the areas of strength or weakness in the character of those with whom I share responsibility. I have sometimes been criticized by my associates for going to what they feel are extreme lengths to ascertain this measure. I do it for a definite reason – I don’t want to be surprised. I want to know the person so I can build on his strengths and buttress his weaknesses. Since character is the foundation of relationships and accomplishments, I don’t apologize for evaluating. I prefer to do the testing when failure is not fatal.
Marines build character that will stand up under fire. They don’t want failure when it counts most. “To “give others the benefit of the doubt” sounds good, but this is not good stewardship in leadership. Napoleon said that the most dangerous general was one who fought based on fantasy. This is true of all leaders. Fantasy and false character evaluations lead to tragic conclusions.
How do I evaluate? I start with the known past. Few people change character as adults. I not only quiz the person, but also everyone who might be knowledgeable. If I am interviewing for a key role, I always interview the spouse, as well. Our close friends and family know more about our character than they might even know about our skills and talents. They don’t read our resumes they read our lives.
Stories reveal the heart. People become involved in stories. Humor draws out spontaneous reactions, which are a window into character. In the past I have been the keynote speaker for sales conferences meeting in Las Vegas. I notice that the comedians who headline always test the edge of social acceptance, especially relating to ridiculing religion and God. Listen to the audience’s reaction and you quickly get an evaluation of the crowd’s character.
Knowing the load limit on your character gives you the freedom to say no. A strongly developed character is a definite asset to experience and well-honed skills. There may be a gap in knowledge, but most failures occur because of cracks in the foundational character. As we evaluate others, it is imperative to check ourselves. Being blindsided can cause great loss, professionally and personally.
This week carefully consider: 1) What are my strengths? Weaknesses? 2) How careful am I to evaluate potential associates? 3) Where are my blind spots in assessing others?
Words of Wisdom “Fantasy and false character evaluations lead to tragic conclusions.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Equity and justice are the foundation of your throne. Loyal love and faithfulness characterize your rule.” (Psalm 89:14 NET Bible)