A man’s character is his fate- Heraclitus Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States (US), said: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
By saying ‘nothing,’ one of America’s greatest minds and founding fathers meant not even God could help such a man.
As a pastor, I have watched pitiably how people self-sabotage themselves by seeking spiritual solutions to character-deficit issues. They look around at everybody as suspects for their predicaments when their greatest demons lurks within them- their character.
What we often call our destiny is truly our character, and since that character can change, then destiny can be altered. Character is destiny.
Is prayer actually EVERYTHING? Many would begin to argue back and forth on this intriguing question, but my main purpose of writing this piece is not to get involved in arguments. Arguments don’t improve the validity of a ‘truth;’ they only determine how long it would take before you realise it.
Most people believe that we can pray ourselves to success and get away with virtually anything if we become a stickler to some prayer routines. There is no amount of spiritual penance that can substitute for character. Sometimes, you need character, not prayer.
Dutch Sheets said: “Prayer is not a check request asking for things from God; it is a deposit slip- a way of depositing God’s character into our bankrupt souls.”
British writer and politician, Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859), said: “The measure of a man’s character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.” I have often said that what would ultimately destroy a man going to high places in life is not really the enemies that are waiting for him there, but the character that followed him there.
I want to emphatically underline the fact that this write-up is not meant to trivialise prayers in any way. I have observed that many people take character for granted, while overzealously tuning on into their spiritual mode.
We have become so spiritually in tune through prayers that we neglect the place of character and our relationship with people. Many are actually ‘heavenly’ bound, but with no earthly relevance. You can speak with spiritual eloquence, pray in public and maintain a holy appearance, but it is your behavior and character that will actually trigger the manifestation of all that God has for you.
You must learn to treat people with courtesy.
The Shunammite woman must have been praying for a child all through her life. By being hospitable to a man of God, she eventually got her much-awaited miracle. It wasn’t prayer that opened the door for her; it was her character. Assuming she wasn’t hospitable, she would have missed a critical miracle.
Many times, we pray, fast and bind demons that don’t exist when our real demons are just our greatly flawed character. Many have insulted people that were divinely placed and orchestrated to help them fulfil their destiny. Some people are keeping malice with their destiny helpers.
Treat people with respect. Treat strangers with courtesy. Never look down on anybody. God can use anyone to change your story.
Abigail Van Buren said: “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”
You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. The way we treat people we think can’t help or hurt us, like housekeepers, waiters, and secretaries, tells more about our character than how we treat people we think are important. How do you treat people?
One of the most impressive architectural feats and the greatest military defence project in history is the Great Wall of China. In 1987, UNESCO designated the Great Wall a World Heritage site, and a popular controversial claim that emerged in the 20th century holds that it is the only man-made structure that is visible from space.
Originally conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (c. 259-210 B.C.) in the 3rd Century B.C. as a means of preventing incursions from Mongolians and barbarian nomads into the Chinese Empire, the wall is one of the most extensive construction projects ever completed.
History has it that when the ancient Chinese decided to live in peace, they made the Great Wall of China; they thought no one could climb it due to its height. During the first 100 years of its existence, the Chinese were invaded thrice and every time, the hordes of enemy infantry had no need of penetrating or climbing over the wall, because each time, they bribed the guards and came through the doors.
The Chinese built the wall, but forgot the character- building of the wall-guards. Though the Great Wall has over the years become a powerful symbol of the country’s enduring strength and spirit, but it has actually been a good reminder to the Chinese of the superiority of human character.
The Chinese realised much later that the best defence against the enemy is not a fortified wall, but a fortified character. Thus, the building of human character comes before building of anything else.
Prayer is not EVERYTHING! Build relationships, and don’t ever forget that God will always use man. Be mindful of your words and how you speak to people. Work seriously on your character and attitude towards life.
I want to say emphatically that character is not optional; it is sacrosanct to the future that God has planned for you. No matter where you place prayers, character matters. The greatest fraud in life is religion without character. A man without character is recklessly alive.
William Shakespeare captured it succinctly when he said: “The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” Peter Schutz, the former chief executive officer of Porsche said: “HIRE CHARACTER; TRAIN SKILLS.”
It is increasingly pathetic to note that a wide spectrum of jobless people fall into the category of what I would like to call religious people. In every work place, virtually all the fraud and redundancy perpetrated are attributed to very religious people. Character is becoming an endangered species and religious activities are increasing every day.
The greatest liability in any organisation is people with nagging character defects. Someone said: “They can’t kill your dreams, so they assassinate your character.” The easiest way to assassinate your dreams is to surround yourself with people of questionable character.
Our dreams can withstand any form of assault, but not a defective character. The greatest killer of dreams is not the enemy, but our character. People with great visions and dreams are always very sensitive to their character and the character of the people they surround themselves with. We all need to continuously work on our character.
Max Depree said: “We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are.” I will love to recommend the book, Character Above All: A compilation of 10 essays on the Presidents of United States from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George Bush. People cannot climb beyond the limitation of their character. The greatest disability in life is a bad character.
Gbenga Adebambo is a columnist at Guardian Nigeria, Dean of Schools of Advancement Centre (EAC) and Editor-in -Chief at Maximum Impact Magazine