As most of you know, I headed up to Portland for a homeschooling conference over the weekend. I learned a great deal about homeschooling, though that’s not what I’m going to talk about today. The one point I kept hearing over and over and over again, the point that I am going to talk about today, is that character matters.
Now at the homeschooling conference, the point about character was directed at teaching children. But being a blogger who finds my inspiration in life, I started thinking about character in all aspects of life, including personal finance.
1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2. one such feature or trait; characteristic.
3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5. reputation: a stain on one’s character.
Character. It’s what defines us. Have you ever thought about your character? I remember a lesson that my 7th grade history teacher taught us. I forget how the subject came up, and I can’t even remember my teacher’s name. But I remember the lesson well. My teacher directed the class to Proverbs 22:1, which reads:
A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
My history teacher than explained that it is better to have a good name than lots of wealth. He gave a few examples. How would you like to have the last name of Hitler? Bundy (as in Ted)? How about Dahmer?
These men all had terrible character flaws, one being a total disregard for human life. I have no idea whether any of them were men of great monetary wealth, but I do remember the reasons they’ve gone down in history, and those reasons aren’t good.
Here’s where I tie it all together: When you’re dealing with your finances, how is your character? If you say you’re going to pay someone back, do you do it? Do you cheat on your income taxes? Do you make an effort to live within your means, or do you throw caution to the wind and figure you can always declare bankruptcy, if the credit card bills get too big to handle?
How are you going to go down in the history of your family? Will you be remembered as someone who kept her word? Or as someone who sacrificed time with the family to work 80 hours a week, so you could buy a brand new BMW?
In the end, people will remember our character. We needn’t be perfect. We can’t be. But I personally want to be known as a person who keeps my word, manages my finances to the best of my ability, and quickly confesses any wrongdoing.
How about you? Is character important? Is it something you work at?
Photo by DDFic.
I am privileged to live in a small town where character still counts in our daily lives – where business is done on the shake of hands by people of good character, where people are still taken at their word, where a person’s word is still worth more than gold, and where if a person says they will do something, you can bet your bottom dollar they will do it or die trying.
It’s also a place where we ALL know those who’s word cannot be trusted, where the news of bad character travels faster than lightening, and where once a person has not carried forth on their word a second chance is not in order.
It’s a place where it’s still easy to see the difference between those who keep their word and those who don’t. I am fortunate to live here in small town America, I believe, where character counts more than money.
I saw this quote in our bulletin at church yesterday and it reminded me how important character is:
“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that while we do what we can to maintain our reputations, we can’t REALLY control what others think of us and as long as we’re following God to the best of our ability, we don’t need to worry so much about what others think. I’ve discovered as a pastor’s wife that if I’m honest about who I am as a person, it’s easier to reach people rather than to act like I’ve always got it “all together.” Character is something I plan to instill into my children from a young age and hopefully be able to lead by example.
No amount of wealth can restore a bad reputation or poor character. I may not have all kinds of money, but I do my best with what I do have and I always strive to be better in the ways I manage. I keep my promises. I am honest without being cruel. I make amends when I wrong someone. I am a Christian woman, and I am glad I learned the moral lessons that form my character.
As a high school teacher, my character in and out of the classroom is vital – both because I am a Christian and because I should serve as an example to all who encounter me at the 2,300 student school. It saddens me that occasionally I will have a student who will do his/her best to get me to allow the students to leave the classroom early for lunch, “forget” about a standing school regulation, etc. When I explain that the mentioned action would be unethical and/or simply wrong, often the student(s) balk and continue trying to manipulate my desicion (without success) because they do not understand the magnitude and importance that I maintain my character. Hopefully, somewhere along the way, I have influenced students to stop and reconsider, then do the right thing instead of taking the “unfortunate road more traveled” to poor character choices.
Glad to hear the focus on character . . . it is something we are losing in this country. Honesty is something else we are short of these days too.
Our leaders ought to revisit these concepts in their own lives– our Treasury Secretary is a prime example . . .