The Essential Need of Character Growth

Coming Full Circle
If you have not read the post previous to this one, please take a moment to read it.

The heart of spiritual formation is union with Christ. Personal formation, or character  maturation, is a corollary of that relationship. That reality in no way diminishes the essential need for life-long character formation.

Competency does not Equate Character
We have all seen the scenario before. A person is profoundly competent. There is much effectiveness in their giftedness. Success piles upon success. Because of these successes, they are promoted.  Then, often, there is the crash. Adultery. Mismanagement of money. Manipulative abuse of others. Control. We have likely all experienced the impact of such scenarios. We see it in ourselves too.

Competency is not the same as character.

Competency is about what we can do.  Character is about who we are. We minister out of who we are, not merely what we know or do.

God’s Growing Process
Bobby Clinton’s The Making of a Leader explains a cycle God takes his people through. When we are young adults we learn new jobs, gifts, and skills. Sometimes we get promoted. However, higher levels of responsibility require more of us. Knowing how to get work done is not enough. So God brings along challenges to mature us. How are you going to respond to the co-worker who hurts you? How are you going to leverage promotion – for other’s gain or your own?

As we respond to God’s maturing processes, we might be given a few more responsibilities. But again, with greater influence must come maturer character. Another round of faith, obedience or other sorts of challenges come our way. I do not mean to overly simplify this into a formula. This cycle can give us the awareness of God’s activity in our life so we can join him in his redemptive work.

Thus is a life-long struggle of maturation. What we see with a leader who acts out in some unfathomable manner is the reality that competency-based promotion has outstripped character maturity. Likely the leader has been offered many opportunities to look in the mirror, confess character deficiencies, repent, seek counsel, and grow. Too often, in all the glitter and busyness, this sort of difficult processing gets pushed aside.

Intentional Character Formation
Before we go any further we must have a perspective check. This is usually where we like to identify the problem, work a plan, and get stuff done – even our own growth. The only IMG_4787problem  is that God is nowhere in the equation. It is all self-driven.
There is a danger in seeing all this as utilitarian: “If I just learn the lessons then I can get the promotion.” Remember, this is not about productivity. This is about communion with God. The primary response God is after when we experience success or trials is to draw closer to him, to confess our poverty and utter need for him. Remember, communion first, character formation as an overflow.

There is a difference between a successful leader and a mature successful leader. What
path are you on?

Two thoughts on Becoming Aware of  Character Deficiency
1). Ask God to show you. He will. His desire is to draw you deeper into himself. He desires your heart above all else.

2). Watch how you respond relationally. Character deficiency is primarily exposed in the context of relationship. Think about it. All sin is relational, against God and others.  A profoundly scary question to ask others that requires much discipline to not respond with anything other than clarifying questions and a heartfelt “thank you” is this: “What is it like to relate to me?” It’s best to prepare yourself well for the answers. People might be polite at first. If they are not afraid of you and you show yourself safe, they might be honest. If they are honest, you have been given a gift. Some of what is seen is beautiful, some not so much.

If you find yourself becoming defensive, well, there is a confirming area to be grown in….I’ve been busted on defensiveness often.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

This entry was posted in Living Wisely, Shepherding Well, Spiritual Vitality and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Essential Need of Character Growth

  1. Darrin P King says:

    Thanks, this helps with a reset of devotional rhythm and focus as another academic year begins. ‘Relationship first, formation as a corollary.’ (sigh of good remembrance emoji)


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