Character, what have you really got?

Are you who you think you are?—how do you really know?

Over the years I have realised that I am not actually who I thought I was.

Have you ever had an experience in which you reacted differently than you expected? This could be positive (you reacted better than you thought you would) or negative (you reacted worse than you expected)? These times show that sometimes we do not really know ourselves as well as we thought, this includes the negatives as well as the positives.

Listen to the words of Alphonse Karr:

“Every man has three characters—that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.”

Two of these characters are misleading. That which is exhibited is not the real you, just a mask we wear. That which we think we have may be shown to be untrue during an experience that sows our shortfall. The most important of the three and perhaps the one we don’t really want to address is the character we actually have. Why? because this is who we truly are.

So, in which of these three characters are you living and most importantly how can you find out?

1. Pressure

I have already mentioned one important area which is experience, especially difficult situations. An analogy that demonstrates this well is that of a sponge. How do you find out what is in a sponge? You squeeze it. How do you find out the character of a person—you apply pressure.

What comes out of you when you face pressure? Is it the same character you think you possess or something else? Perhaps this is your real character—has that thought ever crossed your mind?

2. Your family and Friends

I find it amazing, and true, that how a person is with their family demonstrates their real character. We can be as nice as possible in many situations, but when we go home the mask comes off and who we really are comes to the surface. If I spoke to your family, what character traits would they talk about and more importantly are these character traits the ones you think you possess?

Why am I writing about character?:

“Character is the indelible mark that determines the only true value of all people and all their work.”—Orison Sweet Marden

When all is said and done, it is not fame, fortune, or status that determines who we are, but character:

“No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character.”—John Morley

Your life’s potential is limited not by qualifications and money, but by your own character. Your character will determine the greatness of who you become.

Over the years I have found it useful to have some sort of measure alongside which to assess myself to see how I am doing.

In Galatians. 5:22 we find such a list that I find good and valuable:

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.

I often ask myself if I am growing in these characteristics. How about you?

I’ll finish with the words of Mark Twain:

“Live your life in such a way that when you die even the undertaker will be sorry”

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