Written by Debby Baril
I have had the privilege of sitting around a table, fellowshipping with many different well-traveled ministers, evangelists, revivalists, and preachers from different streams of Christianity.
Engaging in theological discussions, sharing stories about what God was doing around the world, opinionizing about church government structures, and all things God-related, I found invigorating.
One discussion however, left me speechless. Did I misunderstand? Did I misread the context? Whatever the case, the statement left an indelible mark on my heart. It was something to the affect, “We don’t need to teach on character,” as if somehow there had been too much emphasis on character building in raising up the next generation. I may have completely misunderstood. I hope I have.
In a day when a great deal of attention is placed on the gifts of the Spirit and charismatic personalities, character somehow seems to have been misplaced or all-together forgotten. Ministers who started out strong, gained in influence and impact, crashed with dramatic failings leaving a wake of shame and disappointment because of character issues left unaddressed.
Reverberating in my spirit is a statement made in a coaching session, "Every failure in ministry is a failure of character.” Character matters! Character is foundational, and it’s not just for those in public leadership positions. The Apostle Paul charges all the believers in Philippi to:
Live a cheerful life, without complaining or division among yourselves. For then you will be seen as innocent, faultless, and pure children of God, even though you live in the midst of a brutal and perverse culture. For you will appear among them as shining lights in the universe, offering them the words of eternal life.” (Philippians 2:14-16 The Passion)
In another place, Paul encourages the church at Corinth that the Holy Spirit is ever working to transform the believer’s character into the image of Christ.
But we all, with unveiled faces, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB)
So, how does the Holy Spirit transform us from glory to glory? How is the character of Christ developed in our lives? Through the stuff of life. Whether it’s through the mundane day-to-day routines, risk-taking adventures, heart-breaking losses, mountaintop experiences, relationship conflicts or crisis, the stuff of life become tools with which we are molded and shaped.
Cultivating a God-ward, biblical world-view helps us understand that circumstances and the stresses of life can be used to form Christ in us, enabling us to move through life in victory rather than defeat, with resilience rather than self-pity.
How are you embracing God’s transforming power in your present circumstances so that the character of Christ is being formed in you?