10 Dec Developing Character
The first indispensable quality of a leader according to John Maxwell, in his book, 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, is Character.
Character has to do with inner qualities.
What a person is made of.
Character in a leader inspires confidence in others. How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells many things about his character. Crisis reveals character.
According to John Maxwell, “adversity is a crossroad that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequences.” He also says “the development of character is at the heart of our development not just as leaders, but as human beings. Action is the real indicator of character not just talk. Your character determines who you are. Who you are determines what you see. What you see determines what you do. Character is a choice! Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character. There are 4 A’s that can befall anyone with weak character: arrogance; painful feeling of aloneness, destructive adventure-seeking, or adultery.”
Developing in Character demands that we examine ourselves, where we are in the internal growth dynamics on our way to Christlikeness. Many subjects need attention if we are to truly build character; subjects like commitment, integrity, faithfulness, loyalty, humility, accountability, and teachableness… We can also see transparency, sincerity and definiteness of purpose as subjects involved in developing character. We can add single-minded focus to the list.
We all know that progress in any field is impossible without commitment to some things that make for progress. If we can conceive of a life without commitments then we see someone who is going nowhere fast with their entire life. He will flow wherever the wind blows him. Here today, gone tomorrow.
As Christians our commitment is first to God, to His principles and to His people and His purposes on earth. Loving God includes commitment to Him. This may be the bedrock of character development as character may well be the bedrock for personal development. Our commitment to God is what produces honour for God in our hearts, what the Old Testament calls The Fear of God. It is this that helps us love and value what God loves and values. We desire to do the things that are pleasing to God because we love Him and are committed to Him. It’s a choice we make!
”LORD, WHO shall dwell [temporarily] in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell [permanently] on Your holy hill? He who walks and lives uprightly and blamelessly, who works rightness and justice and speaks and thinks the truth in his heart, He who does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbour; In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he who honours those who fear the Lord (who revere and worship Him); who swears to his own hurt and does not change; [He who] does not put out his money for interest [to one of his own people] and who will not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.”
We honour those who honour God. Our commitment to God is the basis of our faithfulness to Him. We are committed to Him, His Word (principles for living) and His people and purposes, no matter how life comes across to us. Our commitment must go beyond convenience, then we can be called faithful, and when faithfulness is beyond comfort, we are called Loyal. Our commitment is also the basis for our Integrity. Integrity has to do with being wholesome, saying and meaning what we say, saying and doing what we say!
“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the [whole] person; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and bright, enlightening the eyes. The [reverent] fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even than much fine gold; they are sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is Your servant warned (reminded, illuminated, and instructed); and in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his lapses and errors? Clear me from hidden [and unconscious] faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then shall I be blameless, and I shall be innocent and clear of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer.”
Commitment to God will cause us to walk in reverence for God, honour humankind created in His image and walk in ways that please Him. Being duplicitous is not pleasing to God as we are not truly representing His nature that we were made to represent.
Other character traits that we need to develop flow out of these issues we are looking at. Humility, teachableness and accountability all flow together. Just like commitment flows into faithfulness and faithfulness flows into loyalty. Let’s see what the story of the wise steward says about faithfulness in Luke 16.
“He who is faithful in a very little [thing] is faithful also in much, and he who is dishonest and unjust in a very little [thing] is dishonest and unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the [case of] unrighteous mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions), who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not proved faithful in that which belongs to another [whether God or man], who will give you that which is your own [that is, the true riches]? No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches, or anything in which you trust and on which you rely). Now the Pharisees, who were covetous and lovers of money, heard all these things [taken together], and they began to sneer at and ridicule and scoff at Him.”
Faithfulness in little is faithfulness in much. Do you see the connection between faithfulness and loyalty? We cannot truly serve God and anything in which we put our trust and reliance on. We must be loyal to one or the other. This deals with our motives too. What is motivating us to do what we are doing? Our love (commitment to) for God or our needs? What are the things we have come to put our reliance on?
Rev. Kola Ewuosho