In the weeks following the recent US presidential election, I’ve been thinking a great deal about leadership and character. The concern in a great many hearts was the apparent lack of character in both candidates vying for the most powerful position in the world. My reflections are occasioned by preparation to speak for a day (four sessions) to a group of fifty special graduate students on the topic of Leading With Character. They are special in that they are all ordained Salvation Army clergy whose pastoral covenant includes a commitment to personal holiness, sanctification, and purity of heart and life.
Just this morning I discovered a note-to-self that I jotted down at the beginning of several days of preparation. It was a simple listing of ways to think about the nature of character. Here’s verbatim the nine thoughts that came to mind about character:
(1) It derives from our highest priority: life in Christ (no God but God). (2) By character we mean living in the likeness of Christ. (3) It reflects a profound love of God and of people.(4) It is seen in dispositions (tempers) based on the “fruit of the Spirit”and purity of heart. (5) It is guided by mind of Christ including a knowledge that surpasses knowledge (knowledge of the heart). (6) It is refined through continual responses to convictions that lead to repentance (a change in the right direction) through submission, surrender, and obedience to the word and will of God. (7) It is seen and judged (inferred by others) more by observation of true humility, compassion, and self-denial for others than acts of piety. (8) Character is formed by the company we keep. (9) Its outer expression in righteousness is inner holiness!