Why does character matter?

Bill Hybels defines character as: who you are when nobody else is looking.”

I’ve been thinking about character a lot recently. It’s mainly because I’m about to deliver a reflection on ‘character’ at my church this morning for ‘Growing Leaders’ session 4. I’m doing the final exercise after the participants have learnt about character. The prezi I’m going to use is here: https://prezi.com/secure/fb63876cbf6a3511bdf57a95899a87ad879903b4/


I was struck by a presentation at the UK Education leaders conference at BETT2011 yesterday (BETT is a technology for education conference that happens in the UK every year). Chris Gerry from the Future Schools Partnership talked about how they use IT smartly to get the best value for it. While a tiny part of his talk was about budget and systems, a large part was about emotions and self esteem – developing character in both pupils and teachers. Could developing character actually save money for the UK education system?
The list that the participants came up with that are ‘essential’ for Christian leadership are:
  • love
  • holiness
  • servant-hearted
  • wisdom
  • encouraging
  • humility
  • perseverance
  • faithfulness
  • integrity
  • forgiveness
  • compassion
  • trustworthiness
  • integrity

I wonder how much of that list applies to our secular leadership. To the likes of Gove (in Education), Cameron and Clegg. We’ve all heard of leaders who had a great gift, a great ministry, a great mission, whatever you want to call it, yet through some flaw in their character, their great task was cut short. Brought down by media revelations or a crisis in their private life. We all have flaws – the question is: do we brush them under the carpet and hope they go away or do we face them up and do something about them?

As Christians we look at the character of Jesus as to be our guide for how we should shape our character. Find out more in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible.
Perhaps the significant characteristic to add the list above is that of authenticity. Jesus was all those things. He was servant-hearted, wise, encouraging, humble and all the rest. But he was authentic too. He lost his temper when he saw injustice. He challenged authority when he saw it was wrong. He became frustrated when his disciples were infeasibly dense. He was real with people.
Later on this morning we will be looking at tools to help analyse character. One of the best I’ve found is the Johari window – a great tool for delving into who you really are, although you do need somebody to help you with it. To find out more, Google it.
So, what shall I do with flaws when I find them?
Augustine said: “Make sure your life sings the same song as your lips.” Authenticity – I think that’s the key for me.

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