Character–What Is it?

You have  agreed to make a trip in a boat. It would be a three or four hour trip across  the harbor for a generous fee in order to deliver something.  You have never sailed but the boat seems seaworthy, you like the water and so you push off from the shore. What seemed like a fit vessel starts to leak. On closer inspection the oars are missing–there is no way to move the boat forward. There are no emergency supplies like a raft, life savers or even one life vest. You are not only adrift from the quick and sure route, but you are in danger of sinking.

This metaphor is what it is like to be with people with no character. This journey could be with a friend, a business colleague, or worse, a marriage.  A person can look normal, respectful and kind and then suddenly they say something that is racist or they were twenty minutes late for your time together. They could look wealthy but turn out to be tight-fisted and controlling with money. Maybe they talk unbearably about themselves the whole time  or start talking badly about mutual friends. All of this makes us uncomfortable, makes us want to leave, and not make the agreed journey across the water, no matter how big the  reward offered at the end.

One  definition of character is: “The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” Who is that person? How will she act when no one is looking? What moral—ethical—beliefs do they have? Jesus Christ  has all   these divine qualities, some of  which are being loving, patient, and courageous. Ryan Holiday, the author, says,

“Character is a powerful defense in a world that would love to be able to seduce you, buy you, tempt you and change you.”

Ryan Holiday compellingly states that  having good character is a shield against many destructive influences. Now more than ever our children need to be taught about character traits. Having character be a “powerful defense” to things that would harm our children  is one of the big ideas. This is another highly leveraging parental tool because it makes our children morally strong on the inside.

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