Does Character Count in a 21st Century World?

We are living in a strange world.  Much has changed since I was a young person and the world I grew up in is a different place to the one my grandchildren are living in.  People think and act in ways that I am unaccustomed to.  It is true that everything is relative.  Most people see the world through their eyes which have been coloured by culture, personal experience, and their own worldview.  

I have read articles that suggest that character can hinder a person and get in the way of them reaching the top.  I have also heard arguments that suggest that character is not important, and that skills are what count in navigating life in the 21st century. It was Martin Luther King Jr that prayed that his four little children would be judged by the content of their character and not by the colour of their skin.  I couldn't agree more.

Then why do some people argue that character is not important?  I would suggest that character  should still be on the front burner of everything we do.  And here is why I would argue that character still counts in the 21st century.

1.  Who You Are is More Important Than What You Do:  We are human beings, not human doings.  Simply put, what is inside of us or who we are is intrinsically more valuable than what we do.

2.  What We Do Will Spring From Who We Are:  The way I respond to any and every situation in life is determined by who I am.  Everything I do is based on who I am on the inside.  I cannot act differently to the person that I am.  Perhaps there are times I can be a hypocrite and pretend, but in real life situations, I am going to do what I am.  For example, kind people will commit kind acts. If you have lived in a family that values kindness and fairness, and if your elders modelled that value and you saw the fruits of kindness then kindness will be a value that you will uphold in every situation of life.  In other words, if you encountered a situation where someone was being bullied your response would not be to bully them as well, but you would intervene in the situation with an act of kindness.  

3.  The World Would Be A Better Place If Character Was Restored To Its Rightful Place:  So, from the example I have just shared most people would choose to live in a world where we valued kindness, justice, equity and all those other values that make human beings decent people.  Sometimes being a person of character can bring a cost with it.  Being honest can be costly in different and varied scenarios.  Standing up for right in a world with mixed values can cost us as well.  Some people may never reach the top of their profession because honouring their values is more important than climbing a corporate ladder to earn more money. 

I know what the Bible says about character and I know that the Bible places great import on the state of a person's heart.  When all is said and done I would rather work with a person of high character than a person with high skill.  A person can have all the skill in the world, but if they are unkind, unjust, untruthful and unloving give me the person with character any day. 

Having said all that, when you marry skill with character you have a powerful mix. Psalm 78:72 "And David shepherded the people with integrity of heart, and with skilful hands he led them."  

My prayer is that we would put character back on the top shelf in the 21st century.

I am and always will be,

recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,


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