Character develops over time
Good choices develop character
If you think of a relationship as a cake, personality is the icing, but character is the substance of the cake.
Good character is not valued in society like it once was. The irony is that good character traits are essential for happiness.
Things began to change in the 20th century, as we transitioned from a producing to a consuming society. Emphasis shifted from a focus on virtue and character to a focus on self and material possessions.
When boys hit the teenage years, personalities and character differences become more noticeable. Personality traits become stronger and can cause good friends to go separate ways as they choose personal values.
Boys go through a predictable series of personal struggle points - often pushed as their friends are getting caught up in the same areas. These are some of the areas which every guy will have to make a decision about.
- Whether to smoke
- Whether to steal
- Whether to have sex
- Whether to get drunk
- Whether to take drugs
- Whether to bully others
All these little choices set your life on a particular path. My encouragement is to make a decision about these things before you are in the situation. Decide now what you will do if someone hands you a joint. Good decisions build a good character.
One of the most important principles of life is that we live in a world of choices and consequences. We choose an action and then we have to live with the consequences of that choice.
It is also a fact of life that sometimes others take actions and we have to live with the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately that is how life works.
Some people go through their whole live and never learn how choices and consequences work. There is always some other reason why things happened to them - 'if that policeman wasn't there, I wouldn't have been charged for speeding'. The real story is that you chose to drive above the speed limit and one of the consequences of that choice is that you will have to pay up money if you get caught. Another possible consequence is the higher risk of having an accident because of the high speed.
I know a guy who refused to wear his seat belt when it became law in Australia. He had an accident on a wet road where his car slid sideways into a power pole. This guy slid across the seat and hit the door on the opposite side of the car and broke his back. He became a paraplegic through the accident and now has to go everywhere in a wheelchair. He made a dumb choice and he has to live with the consequences of that choice for the rest of his life.
Others will relate to you as a person they can trust if you show maturity and an attitude that your decisions and actions carry consequences. The idea is to learn from your mistakes so you don't make a series of dumb decisions and keep getting bad consequences. Sometimes you have to fake maturity until it comes normally!
Provoke someone to do something through (often false or exaggerated) promises or persuasion
Temptation will only destroy you if you don't know how to handle it. When handled correctly, it builds solid character within you. Therefore there is not something wrong with you if you find you are being tempted in some area, but each time you give in to temptation, the more power that thing gets over you.
Temptation normally hits all of us in three distinct areas at some time or other through our whole life:
You need to set up a standard in your life to handle these three areas at least. Will you grab some sex where you can or will you live up the Bible standard for your sex life? Will you set the goal of your life to gain power or will you rest in the Bible promise that God promotes into positions of power and authority? Will you be honest with money as a life choice or will you change your 'honesty' depending on the circumstances?
It is character building to set up a standard and live to it. Then when you are tempted, you have a reference point to work from and reject the temptations that don't fall within your chosen standard.
How you respond to these temptations determines the way your character will be - successful or destroyed. Set up your standard now!
Honor your father and mother
This is not always easy! Honoring doesn't mean you have to feel great about your parents, or that you have to feel love towards them necessarily, or that you agree with everything they do and say.
It is a choice of your will to honor your parents. This means you take the position something like this: 'I don't understand my parents and they make me really angry and embarrassed sometimes, but I choose to respect these people who brought me into this world, despite their crazy actions'.
Parents have their own hassles and stuff they are still dealing with from their own childhood. Most parents do the best they can under their circumstances of trying to still sort out their own lives and bringing up children at the same time.
My parent story
I hated my parents when I was a teenager. I didn't want to be seen with them at all. When I look back on those years now, I can't understand why I felt so strongly that way towards them. They were really great people and I must have caused a lot of hurt and pain to them.
Their 40th wedding anniversary celebration was coming up and I was asked to give a speech because I am the only male out of their three children. This really put the pressure on me. Eventually I decided to apply this verse from the Bible:
...I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
So that I didn't look a fool when I stood up to give my speech I prepared ahead of time by trying to think of good things about my parents. It didn't take much effort at all and I found lots of good things about them! The speech was a success. The relationship between us improved from that point - not instantly - but it was a crucial turning point. The change had to come from me and my attitude!
There is a Bible promise for you that comes into action from choosing to honor your parents:
Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.
This one is hard to do for everybody at some point in their lives. It is hard because if there is a need for forgiveness, then it means that something unjust has been done against you and you feel you have every right to hate and seek revenge.
Here is the problem with unforgiveness - it destroys you! When you indulge in an attitude of unforgiveness, it feels like you will get even and feel better for it, but the truth is that you will suffer more than the person you are taking revenge on! 'Two wrongs don't make the situation right'. Unforgiveness involves continuing mental torment for you, even if you feel justified in your attitude.
Forgiveness is an act of your will and you may have to choose to do it every hour of every day until you get over the situation. Forgiveness means giving up the right you have to revenge what happened to you. This is not only a Bible principle but most counselors agree on this too.
Forgiveness does not mean you will feel love for the person or that you will become good friends. It just means you give up your 'right' for revenge. Forgiveness can also apply to yourself for something you perceive you have done wrong.
But if you don't practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly.