The Armorbearer Coach & The Character of Christ In You
And even though Jesus was God’s Son, He had to learn from experience what it was like to obey, when obeying meant problems and difficulties. -Hebrews 5:8 TLB paraphrased by author
Recently, an actor with a career spanning over half a century told of his humble beginnings and one of his character choices that changed his life forever, “I was newly married and a new father. We were barely making it; living off my waiting tables and doing a few acting jobs here and there.
A man called one day offering an assignment paying a lot of money (back then) to play a young rebellious man spewing out obscenities to his father. After thinking of the disrespect it would bring to my father, a good man, I turned it down and declared I would only play roles in which my family could be proud.
Almost a month later, the man called back with a respectable role and an offer to represent me as my agent. He said he could not stop thinking about me. He said, ‘If a man feeding his family off pennies could turn down an assignment offering this much money, there had to be something to him.’ He represented me as my agent for 30 years until his death.
The role he offered me was Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” That actor was Sidney Poitier, who went on to win for his work in the movie, Lilies of the Field, 1963; the only Oscar for Best Actor awarded to an African-American in a 40 year span of U.S. history. Mr. Poitier’s choice during that difficult time changed the course of his life.
Have you noticed that much of how we respond to life’s circumstances has to do with our character? God desires to build character within us. He desires to train (discipline) us as His children.1 Training and disciplining does not always feel good. In fact, it can be downright painful.
Ask any private in a military boot camp or any professional athlete during his training season. The Apostle Paul encouraged us about God’s training, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” 2
Many times, throughout Scripture we find God saying to man…I wanted to know what was in your heart. I tested you to know if you would keep My commands. After Abraham’s character test, God said, “Now I know that you love Me.” To the Israelites He said, “I tested you in the wilderness so that I would know what you would do.” 3
As with any test, the day or season of the test is not the time to develop and prepare. Therefore, I believe the time to cooperate with God to build character is the now–everyday. In the everyday processes of life, we have opportunity to develop character (moral strength). Choices create character.
Problems and adversity give us opportunity to develop character. The Apostle Paul (as incredible as it may sound) in one of his letters to the Roman church, encouraged them to rejoice when facing difficulties, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us–they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally, our hope and faith are strong and steady.” 4
We develop character every time we make a right choice. John C. Maxwell, America’s expert on leadership and successful executive says, “We create it (character) every time we make choices–to cop out or dig out of a hard situation, to bend the truth or stand under the weight of it, to take the easy money or pay the price.” 5 By daily recognizing, developing, and refining the moral strength in us, we are co-laborers in building the character God desires to see in His children.
We desire people of character in our churches, our cities, our countries, and our world. Most if not all of the success stories turned failures in recent years, have been partially due to lack of character. No one can rise above the limitations of his character. Billy Graham was asked to comment on how he was able to maintain character in the face of so many ministry leaders showing a lack of character.
He responded with, “People have put me on too high a pedestal. We do the same with other leaders. I know, however, I am not as good as some people think I am. I have seen men in the depths of wickedness and have thought to myself, ‘There I go, except by the grace of God.’ I have to depend on God every day to help me live as I should.” We also must depend on the grace of God to help us live, as we should. To develop character in your life on a daily basis:
oMake right choices. Remember character is a choice. Invite God in on your choices. You will find it makes a lifetime of difference.
oRecognize your character will preach the gospel. Determine to set a good example for those watching your witness.
oRemember bad company corrupts good character. Watch the company you keep. Are they a good influence upon your life or a bad one?
oDepend on the grace of God. When you make a mistake, repent, and begin again. My pastor, Mike Hayes says, “God is a God of new beginnings. Look at how He provides us an opportunity for a fresh start each new season, New Year, new month, new week, and every fresh morning.”
We have determined that choices create character. If you have been unfortunate to make quite a few wrong choices in life as I have, then this will be good news to you. Pastor Amy Hossler encouraged me saying, “Even a wrong or bad choice repented of can eventually build good character.” Our Father God has promised (if we ask for it) to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Additionally, He promised to work all things to our good.9
It seems our Father God is painstakingly involved in working character in us. However, it is up to us to work together with him so that we may reap the harvest of righteousness he longs to give us. Join me as I cooperate with God in creating good character in me with one good choice at a time.