I work with a lot of young men who have tremendous calls upon their lives. God has a powerful destiny for each one of them. I see that potential and work to help them release it and enter into the fullness of who God has called them to be and what He has called them to do for Him. However, many times all of this is short-circuited by the lack of character in the person’s life. They simply don’t take the time to work on who they are – their character. Things such as trustworthiness, respect, honesty, responsibility, fairness, compassion, caring. You get the idea.
Pulitzer Prize winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent eight years in prison during the Soviet era for criticizing Joseph Stalin. He went into prison an atheist and came out a person of faith. The experience didn’t leave him bitter. It left him grateful for the development of his faith and the strengthening of his character. Looking back on the experience, he said, “I bless you, prison – I bless you for being in my life – for there lying on rotting prison straw, I learned the object of life is not prospering as I had grown up believing , but the maturing of the soul.”
If we desire to grow and reach our potentials we must pay more attention to our character – the maturing of our soul – than to our success. We must recognize that personal growth means more than expanding our minds and adding to our skills. It means increasing our capacity as human beings. It means maintaining core integrity, even when it hurts. It means being who we should be, not just focusing on being where we want to be. It means maturing our souls.
Physician and author Orison Swett Morden once described a successful person by saying, “He was born mud and dies marble. This gives us an interesting metaphor to use to look at various lives. Some people are born mud and remain mud … Sadly, some are born marble and die mud; some are born mud, dream of marble, but remain mud. But many persons of high character have been born mud and died marble.”
That is a great thought. And, we can reach “marble” if we take the time to be self-reflective coming to know who we are on the inside. Character is really who you are when no one is looking. When you are free to allow the inside to be seen on the outside. As we come to know ourselves better we can then see areas of our character that need some attention and some hard work. This allows the mud to become marble. But, it is a personal choice we each need to make.
A great place to start is understanding the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” These are part of the very nature and character of God Himself. And, as we journey on our path and run the race as disciples and believers one of the goals must be to become more and more like Jesus. And, these fruit describe so well the basic character and nature of Jesus as we see Him in the pages of the four gospels.
Remember, the stronger your character the greater your potential for personal growth and maturity.