Here’s a story I think you will enjoy. The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: “Take only ONE. God is watching.” Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table, was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A girl had written a note, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.” That girl is probably one of those characters that could use a bit of character.
Have you noticed all the chatter about character and ethics lately? I see it everywhere. Good character traits are listed in school cafeteria walls, in the newspaper, in businesses, in politics. The list goes on and on. Now is a time when character and the necessity of character is trying to return. But it seems like the more we push good character in our world, the more we get characters in our world. Real character cannot be acted out. Character comes from within, not from without! You can’t change your character by getting a facelift.
Character determines long term success. Our talents, drive, gifts or abilities might get us to the top but character keeps us there. Realizing our full potential is impossible without sufficient character. Good character affects others trust in us. If there is little trust because a character flaws and deficiencies, there is limited and guarded relationship. People and institutions withdraw. It becomes a ‘lose-lose’ for everyone! Can I hear an Amen to that?
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Years ago, I was contacted by a high official of the United Nations. He shared with me that he was the head of a United Nations program whose goal was to find people of “ethics” who could teach on character in cities throughout Russia. He said many western businesses were trying to invest and conduct business in Russia but because of a lack of basic business ethics, most were now leaving Russia. The United Nations solution was to find leaders with a lifestyle of good ethics and introduce the Russian business community to these values through seminars all over Russia.
See that! We will never succeed with employees, politicians, teachers, academics, business leaders and the like who are characters with little character. That kind of personality driven, media supported success will have a short shelf life. It’s not sustainable. It will get you in the long run.
Ethics and good character are essentials for any nation, business or person. Theodore Roosevelt wisely said: “To educate a man in the mind and not in morals (values) is to educate a menace to society.” Lindsay White of Costa’s Fresh Produce says, “We used to hire people for their skills, but we found we were firing them for character issues. Now we hire for character (values) and train for skills.”
Let me ask you a question. If you were an employer, which of these employees would you rather have? An employee who is alert or careless…compassionate or indifferent…diligent or slothful…orderly or confused…thorough or incomplete?
If you are an employee, which type of employer would you rather have? An employer who is generous or stingy…attentive or distracted…wise or foolish…truthful or untruthful? The answers should be obvious.
Character or the lack of character affects us all. Character can be our best friend or our worst enemy! My advice, make character your best friend! Character isn’t old fashioned. It’s wise. Too many of us have given up hope on finding people of good character these days. Character is still here and history shows that those people and nations who forget the necessity of good ethics and character are soon forgotten themselves.
Allow me to say it this way, it’s OK to like a character but they better have character too!
Church-Community Connection is published weekly in 10 newspapers all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 450 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing mental perceptions that the community has of the church.