Building Character

What drives you? What is the guiding principle behind all your actions? What are you seeking to build with your time on earth? Will it last?

Do we always want to be chasing after something? Financial security? Wealth? Love? Happiness? Independence? Fame? Freedom? Do we realize that our plans and strategies are built on so many assumptions that are often incomplete and ill-informed? There are many ‘worldly’ things that are important to strive for to ensure physical well-being. But do we think that it is only when we have ensured physical well-being, financial security etc that we can look to building our character, loving others well, and being generous?

We have little control over the circumstances we find ourselves in. We move from one environment to another, ‘graduate’ from one stage of life to another, move from one social circle to another. We cannot choose our family members, and we have no say over whether or not our boss and colleagues are nice people or not. We learn that in this world, everybody looks out after their own interests first. Are we at the mercy of a cold and selfish world then?

There is, however, at least one constant factor in our lives. Our self. We bring our self into every situation and every encounter. Do we believe that we have the power to transform our environment? That we can even influence change in the people around us? That we can make a negative encounter into a positive learning experience? That we can appear to lose, but still emerge victorious because we made full use of every opportunity to grow?

What does it mean to be a successful human being? I believe it has nothing to do with any measure of intelligence, academic or professional success, talent, wealth, or even health. None of these can be guaranteed. Any of them could be lost at anytime. I am prone to think that success in being a human being has more to do with being a blessing to others. Generosity of spirit and love have no prerequisite other than a sincere desire to become a better human being.

I realize now that a lot of this boils down to building character. My own. Every temptation is an opportunity to do good. Every suffering, small or big, is an opportunity to be purified and strengthened. Every fall and failure can be turned into good when I face myself humbly and honestly.

The best laid plans for anything else can fall apart in an instant. But if one is committed to building character, success is guaranteed.

I’ve found that more than anything, that’s what God wants for me. He wants me to become more like Christ. And that’s what I will commit myself to. However long it takes, no matter how many mistakes I make. Just as long as I choose to stay in the furnace and abide in His love. Little by little, I shall become a better reflection of Christ’s love and light in this world. That is, afterall, my calling as a Christian.

I wrote this post quite a while ago. Can’t remember why I didn’t publish it then. A conversation last week and a recent email sparked reflections along the same lines, which is why I’m publishing this now.

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