Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The Elder Board here at Grace Church is taking time this year to study together Bill Hybels’ book, Who You Are When No One’s Looking. As we took the time to discuss the first chapter on the topic of character, I was impressed more by what character is not rather than what character is. For example:

Character is not reputation!

Character is not success!

Character is not achievement!

Character is not what people think of you. Why? Because what people think of you is based on what you do. What people think of you is your reputation, not your character. Character is not based on what you do but rather who you are. Reputation is based on what people see you do. Your character is based on what you do when no ones else is looking. In other words:

I am not a man of character because people think well of me!

I am not a man of character because I have had successes!

I am not a man of character because of my achievements!

A man can be thought well of by others, have great success at what he does, and be awarded for many astounding achievements and still lack character. The opposite can also be true. A man can be ridiculed by others, have little success in life and have few if any awards for achievements and still be a man of character.

Here’s something else. It is possible for a man to lose his reputation and perhaps never get it back but still become a man of character. Take the Old Testament character named David as an example. In the eyes of most churched people, David’s failures would have cost him his reputation. Even in our culture today, with its quickening moral downward spiral, a preacher being caught red-handed in adultery and cold-blooded murder would result in a permanent scar of their reputation. Ten, twenty, even fifty years down the road, when that individual’s name is mentioned, the first thing that would be brought up would be, “Isn’t that the guy who committed adultery and murder?”

Yet, at the end of David's life, when the world would still be speaking of his indiscretions that tarnished his reputation, God summarized him with one phrase…“a man after God’s own heart!” How wonderful is our God! Even when we can’t get away from the skeletons of our past that continue to mark our reputation, we can still become a person of character if we will choose consistency and resist compromise, even when no one else is looking.

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