I read a great quote yesterday, “Character produces destiny.”
It has stuck with me. I love it so much. Yet, I question, is it always true? Certainly we can all think of great people who have accomplished something of importance, value, or virtue and point to their remarkable character as helping them excel to that level. Can we also think of those who have excelled and have character flaws? I imagine we all would say yes.
The thing about character is that it is not necessarily innate. Often, it is a choice. Character traits like honesty, loyalty, generosity, kindness, etc. We have to work at them. We have to consciously choose them. While a great character may get you to the top, you can find yourself lagging in some of those same character traits shortly after the success. What then? Do you lose the success, the achievement, the victory? Sometimes, but not always.
Let’s just be honest. Even the greatest person we know (outside of Jesus Christ) cannot be flawless in their character. So if you find yourself lacking in areas, do you just quit? Give up? Realize you are never going to get to that “destiny” you feel called to? I don’t think so. Scripture informs us that we are fallen. We sin. We fail. When our character is lagging, we work on it. We get in the Word, which actually has a lot to say about our character, and we learn. We grow. We invest in becoming better.
And just to make it clear – just because you speak the most or the loudest does not mean you have the best character. Sometimes it indicates the opposite. You are talking your way into the idea of character, or at least trying to convince others that you have a certain character. Talk too loud or long and most can figure out that you indeed lack some. And usually, along with it, is a huge dose of ego. I’ve been there. I’ve struggled with it. At times it feels like self-promotion is what is needed to achieve a goal. It’s what the world does, what it encourages, what it tells you must be done to succeed.
So how do we build our character? Certainly we can work on being more generous, loving, and kind but is doing more the answer? Is trying to behave a certain way going to cut it? Nope. Not for long. You can fool some people for a while but eventually the truth will come forth. So…once again…what do we do?
Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4 give us some insight. We build our character through tribulation, through struggle, through difficulty and pain. Not really what I wanted to hear. The truth is, we can only improve ourselves so much. Without the Holy Spirit working in us and our abiding in Christ, we cannot accomplish improvement in our character. Trying to do things in our own power falls short. Allowing Christ and the Spirit to work through us produces greater results! Be encouraged. God is not finished with us yet!