Robert Wilson, in his book Character Above All seeks to answer one fundamental question: “What is the relationship between the President’s character and presidential leadership?” He asks the question because it is his observation that as a group, the American people “‘started out such good people. What happened to us?’…Our political process does reflect us, as do our politicians. If we pay only superficial, limited attention to that process, why should we expect any more than we have, to be better off than we are?” So begins his examinations of the ten presidents from FDR through George Bush.
It is the tenet of Wilson that the worth of these ten influential men was not so much what they accomplished through their political agenda, but what their activities in the highest office in the land revealed about their character. While the book is not even nominally Christian, its thesis is essentially biblical. When the early church went to choose its first group of servant leaders (called deacons), the qualifications were for men who were “of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom…” (Acts 6:3). Do you ever wonder if someone is worthy of being followed? That’s the test.
Another writer has well-noted that, “studies show that most people who do not finish well fall prey to character issues rather than inadequacies in [ministerial] skills and competencies.” [Stephen E. Peisner, “Intentional Character Development.”] While competency, skill and knowledge in service is obviously important, it is also critical that we not leave behind the heart for the One whom we serve.
Thus, as Paul concludes his first letter to Timothy, he offers six simple reminders of the kinds of things (though the list is not exhaustive) that result in God-exalting, God-revealing character (1 Timothy 6:11). Here are six qualities to ask God to build in your heart and six characteristics to mindfully, aggressively seek in your walk with God.
Pursue righteousness. Is your desire to demonstrate daily what God has made you eternally (Rom. 6:11)?
Pursue godliness. Do your actions reveal a confidence in the truth that one of the greatest things of value on earth is a God-oriented life that results in God-revealing activity (1 Tim. 4:8)?
Pursue faith. Is your passion to live like you believe in God (Heb. 11:6)?
Pursue love. Simple question: “Do you love Me?” Before you answer, think about it. Christ Jesus looks you in the eye, His gaze unwavering. “Do you love Me?” (Jn. 21:15ff)
Pursue perseverance. Are you moving forward, carrying the burden that God has intentionally allowed you to carry, knowing that His grace is sufficient (1 Cor. 10:13)?
Pursue gentleness. Are you spiritually strong, and is that strength under control (Js. 3:13)?
Character is not accidental. It is the result of a willful intent to obediently follow God in both the large and small things of life.