If you’ve followed my Leader Podcast for the past few weeks, you know that we’ve been in a series called Grow Your Character. This is the fifth and final lesson, and in full disclosure, I really hesitated to even do this series. I realize that there have been some heavy topics and content, but I chose to do this series anyway because this subject is that important.
Most people think that character is merely good morals. As simply as I possibly could, I wanted to show you that it is much more than what you may think. In fact, character is the foundation of everything we do, whether good or bad. Character is the soil of our lives. It is the place where the fruit we produce, whether good or bad, originates. So, I encourage you to keep reading; I’m going give you my final thoughts on the subject of character as we wrap up this Grow Your Character series.
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Scripture confirms that we're known by the fruit we produce. People know us by the outward fruit they see, but that fruit grows from something deep within us. That fruit is produced from the soil of our character. Our emotions, reactions, dedication, and all good external leadership comes from deep within us.
The nutrients in the soil of your character will determine the type of fruit that you produce; the soil of your character will determine the type of external results you see in your life. Scripture says that other people will know you by your fruit. That fruit will manifest in your life in a relational way, either for good or bad. If you like the fruit you’re seeing in your life, the soil of your character is good and healthy soil. Many times, however, you may not like the fruit you’re seeing. If that’s the case, you can more than likely trace your issues to the poor soil of your character. The negative fruit identifies a need for growth in that particular area of your character.
It is the negative, deep-rooted things of our character that I believe the Lord desires to set us free from. Think about this. Luke 4:18 tells us, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” When the Lord speaks of healing the broken-hearted, delivering the captives, giving sight to the blind, setting at liberty those who are bruised, He is speaking of a spiritual and emotional healing for us. These issues are deep-rooted soil issues, and the Lord has given us the tools to work through these problems. The result is better relational and external fruit in our lives.
Learning how to produce positive fruit is what this series is all about; that’s what character growth is all about. The Lord desires to help us repair the hidden, broken parts of our character. He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, and that light will help us finish the process of growth in our lives. We shouldn’t have to learn to live and cope with negative fruit. I believe Christ desires to repair and grow those deep-rooted negative issues in our character so that we can ultimately produce better, more godly fruit.
What is at stake if I don’t pay attention to character growth in my life? I’m glad you asked. Let me explain. We all have wounds and dark places in our pasts that come from sin. It is the sin that taints our soil and character. Not one of us on earth can avoid this. Psalms 51:5 tells us, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sin and “soil” issues are a fact of life for us today, but consider the next few verses. Psalms 51:6-7 says, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Sanctification is a process. The purging, cleansing, and developing of the inward parts of our character takes time.
In this day and age, it’s so easy for a person’s platform to grow faster than their character. A person may have the charisma, the degrees, and the knowledge to perform a job, but if their character is not healed or developed properly then it’s easy for the sinful, dark areas of their life to manifest during the most inopportune times. Negative character traits can affect the way you interact with your family as well as the way you lead people. Negative character can even cause devastating moral failure.
Really, this is how the lack of character kills careers and destroys friendships. It splinters families and lessens influence, but you don't just wake up one day in a morally compromising situation. Those situations come from years of neglecting the deep-rooted soil issues in your life. Talent and competency may get you on the platform of your choice, but character is what's going keep you there. If you really want to expand your leadership and personal capacity, it’s incredibly important that you learn to deepen and grow your character.
The four character structures that I’ve gone through over the past few weeks are the primary aspects of our character. These are the points that will deepen and grow your character. I encourage you to go back and read those posts if you need a review, but here they are again in short definition.
1. Healthy relational connection: The ability to trust, be vulnerable, and bond to important people in your life.
2. Healthy boundaries: The ability to have your own voice, make your own choices, and freely express yourself.
3. Embracing reality: The ability to accept the truth that there are both positive and negative things in your life.
4. Emotional capacity: The ability in adulthood to be confident in who you are and why you exist.
I went through each of these in my previous posts and attempted to explain them as clearly and as simply as I could. By working on these issues in my life for several years now, I've been able to create a tremendous focus and clarity around the goal of growth. I have found the sore spots in my life and leadership and identified and worked on the character structures that coincide with my negative fruit. It has taken a great deal of time, effort, and vulnerability with key people in my life, but I've seen significant internal growth. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm still not perfect and I'm still growing, but implementing this process has made all the difference in the world for me. I call this another level of maturity; I call it my discipleship process. Character is such a vital part of our leadership. It is important to work hard at growing your character!
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