Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Path to Character

The down side of doing so much introspective reflecting as a preacher - usually looking for personal experiences that I can use for illustration purposes - is not always liking what I remember. I'm not one to live in the past or be haunted by guilt and the sad cry of "should have," but I am saddened occasionally when I remember stupid choices, selfish priorities, and spineless convictions. The truth is, the path to character in my life has at times been crooked, detoured, and ignored. It wasn't that I didn't have convictions or values, there was just a drought of courage at certain times when the ugly market place of pleasure, recognition, and success looked more attractive. Yes, there were times when I was just young and foolish, but there were plenty of times when my heart was screaming in my ear "Be a man of character," and I simply didn't listen. I guess most of us are hard-of-hearing at times - or at least guilty of having selective hearing problems.

But I did learn. I did, with a patient Father, grow out of the need to let peer approval lead me more than God's approval. I did develop some life principles that became foundations of moral convictions and non-negotiable values. The need to be authentic and real about my relationship with Jesus and God gave me the courage I needed to please them whether anyone else liked it, believed it, or agreed with it. Integrity became a personal treasure that means more to me than pleasure, recognition, and success can tempt me to compromise. As a result, my path to character has been pretty straight (and narrow) for a lot of years now. With it comes a peace that I wish I could have understood and enjoyed back in those zigzag days - but, I guess that's why it's called growing. We're not born mature - either physically or spiritually, but with God's guidance, we can get there with both.

I am doing a series of lesson now about Living A Life That Counts, and it will be about some of those principles of life that I have learned along the path to character. The first lesson was "Life is all about who you love and who loves you back." Knowing it and living it are two different things. It's the difference character makes.

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