I enjoy reading. Although I rarely find the time that I would like, to indulge in some sort of reading. My reading usually consists of one chapter every night before I go to sleep. But sometimes I will come across a section in a book or magazine that I don't want to put down. It speaks to me more so than other sections and chapters that I have read. I find myself making extra time during the day to continue on in the story or dig deeper into the subject that I was reading. My most recent occurrence of this happened earlier this week. I just finished a book called "Next Generation Leader" by Andy Stanley. He divides this book up into five sections, the last of which is on the topic of character.
This topic is one in particular that has been hammer home to me over and over again during my time and Nebraska Christian College. I learned that effective ministries will only thrive if they are operating out of an abundance of good character. This also is directly related to your personal relationship with God. The ultimate goal is to strive to become so close to God and spend so much time in prayer and in His word, that you have no choice but to operate out of your overflow or abundance of Him. (I also want to make the point that since the word "plethora" means to have "too much" of something or an "excess", that it should not be a word that is associated with God...because I don't think its a possible to have too much of Him rather we are always trying to get more)
This topic of character, has been something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. In his book, Stanley encourages his readers to live a live of constant integrity and really sit down and think through your values and beliefs. His theory is that there will be one time in your life where you will encounter something that will be a major test to your character. You will have to choose to do what is right, or choose the opposite and suffer a major blow to your ministry and also to your integrity and character. This may seem to be the case when I think back to the various stories that I have heard of people in ministry positions that have compromised their integrity and because of that, have ruined their ministry and how people view their character.
I would like to take this one step further. While I agree with the statement that each person will have to deal with one large scale happening that will be a true test of character, I also think that it is something that we have to deal with on a smaller scale and on a daily basis. While there may be that one monumental event that you look back on saying that was the true test of your character which you either passed or failed, I believe that there are smaller battles that if you don't fight, you will face the same outcome over time. You see, I believe that the choices we make on a day to day basis shape the way we will handle that one large happening. I believe that Satan is trying everything he can to attack our character. He is crafty and will try to start habits in you by attacking the small areas of your life and then desensitize you when that large happening occurs. Choosing to tell a lie, or swearing, or lust, or something else that we might deal with daily could be just as important for us to watch out for as something huge.
What I have been challenged with over the past week, is to strive to not give the devil a foothold in any area of my life. Whether it be telling a lie, or cheating, or lust...anything. I don't want to give him the opportunity to smash my integrity or character. All it takes is one event to ruin your ministry forever.
At the end of his book, Stanley tells a story of his kids. Every night before bed, Stanley would pray with his children that God would them the wisdom to know the truth and the character to always follow it, even when its tough. (This is my paraphrase because I don't have the book next to me for direct quote purposes) That has become a constant prayer in my life, that God would give me wisdom to know the truth and character to always follow it, even when its tough.
How about you?
James 1:5 and Proverbs 11:3