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What is Real Character?
by Greg Baker
5/30/2011 / Parenting
When you think of character, what definition springs to mind? It has been described to me in a variety of ways, such as: the subconscious doing of right, or taking responsibility for your responsibilities, and also doing right even when it goes against your nature. These all seem to be good definitions. They all, however, have a common thread. Each definition depends upon the ability of the individual in question to self-govern, or rule himself.
This is the essence of character. Setting for yourself rules in order to remain honest, to be on time, to work hard, to be patient, understanding, dedicated, responsible, and accountable are more likely to be followed and obeyed than if you felt you must do these things due to someone else's character or rules.
When it comes to children, they don't bound or temper their actions by their own rules. Left to their own devices, they will invariably do something they ought not to do. They have foolishness bound in their heart.
Most children do not possess good character. Many adults never achieved it. You do not possess character when it is someone else's rules governing your actions. Indeed, it is not unusual for that individual to violate these imposed rules and values when they reach an age where we expect them to govern themselves. The problem is, they never had to. They never decided for themselves not to do wrong. So they are much more susceptible to temptation and the allure of pleasures.
We see this happen in your children when they reach adulthood. For all of their life, their restraint has been determined by the character and values of someone else--often the parents. But once he is 17, 18, or 19 years of age, suddenly those restrictions are gone. He finds himself able to do things and go places he was forbidden to go before. He doesn't have his parent's character. He doesn't share their values. So he strays across the lines his parents or other authority worked so hard to keep him from crossing causing himself and those that love him tremendous pain.
It is not character to live by someone else's character. You must have your own for it to be truly considered character. You must be able to govern yourself, chose higher values and morals than our nature would typically chose of its own accord. To rule your own spirit as the Bible teaches.
Proverbs 25:28 - He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Proverbs 16:32 - He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
True character is achieved when you can rule your own spirit and follow a set of rules laid down by your own self to govern your actions and behavior according to a set of values and moral principles.
Proverbs 28:26 - He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
This is what we want to avoid, obviously. What we want to achieve, however, is this:
Proverbs 6:6-8 - Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
Here the ant has NO guide or overseer and works hard to prepare for winter. This is the essence of what character is. It is doing what needs to be done according to your own values and not dependent upon a guide or overseer.
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