People of excellent character: A rare treasure

We live in a time when character flaws are frequently ignored and too often they are even celebrated. Very few people want to face the character problems that have crept into their lives. As a result, they keep building their businesses, careers, marriages, and families on faulty foundations that eventually cause the collapse of everything they have worked all their lives to achieve.

We have an additional problem in Nigeria: for years, we have used money to cover up unethical behaviors. We have avoided getting honest about our character flaws by continually throwing money at them. In Nigeria today, everything has become monetized. We buy our way out of integrity and honesty. In fact, anyone who does not have money cannot be seen as a leader. Leaders who have rock-solid character but do not have money and what money can buy are not seen as leaders. In order to be respected in the society, everyone is lawlessly running to make money.  We keep deceptively camouflaging our problems and cover our wrong doings as a people. In recent times, the fig-leaves we are using to cover our moral nakedness are beginning to fall off. Now, the whole world is seeing our nakedness as a nation.

Robb Thomson wrote: “One night, I sat watching a program on the Discovery channel. The program was about a tribe in the deep part of West Africa that had some very unique customs. The men of the tribe had come together to build a hut for one of the men who was getting married. However, there was something unusual about this scenario—the man did not yet have a bride-to-be! He did not know who his bride was, but he was building her a hut!

The interpreter asked the man, “Do you know where your wife will come from?” The man replied, “I had hoped to go to another tribe and bring home a wife. But my father has asked me not to marry outside of ours, for he does not know what foreign customs the woman would bring with her. I will honor my father’s wishes.” Then the interpreter asked, “What types of attributes are you looking for, in a woman?” The man replied, “The number-one attribute I am looking for is a woman of good character.” Beauty is good, but character is more valuable than it. In fact, when it comes to marriage and every sphere of life, character is everything!

Also, after a while, good looks are not so good anymore. Long after certain areas of our bodies begin to sag and shape themselves differently, good character remains. There is no well-taught-man, who desires a happy home in the days to come, who would want to choose who to get married to and put beauty ahead of character. When beauty fades away, character majestically steps in!

Some years back, some middle-class men and millionaires were asked, “What kind of woman are you looking for, when you marry?” The number-one attribute the middle-class men said they desired was good looks. On the other hand, the number-one attribute on the lists of the millionaires was good character. and someone looking for whom to get married to is character.

In today’s world, many people are looking for others of strong character with whom to associate. In fact, most people make good character a pre-requisite for access into their lives, especially when they are scouting for a spouse or looking for a good friend, but these same people would build better marriages and friendships if they would first examine the character of the person standing in front of the mirror. That assessment would predict the health of their relationships much more accurately than dictating the kind of character they require from others.

Anyone who is searching for a person of excellent character ought to know that such a person is a rare treasure in this world. A faithful person is very difficult to find. It is easier for people to go with the flow than to stand against the tide and do what is right. I have learned, through the years, that a person who wants to remain irresponsible usually leeches on to individuals who demonstrate responsible, good character. That way, he will always have someone to bear the load he himself should be carrying. Sad but true, good character is what others want you to possess, so they do not have to.

So, why is a person of character rare? It is because character is expensive. There is a price to pay for pursuing character. It does not just happen by chance. We have to passionately, diligently pursue it. The development of character comes with a price tag; but I can guarantee one thing—it is cheaper than the consequences of living without it.

It is our family members and close associates—who know if we are really men and women of character. They know who we really are. If we have paid the price to pursue character, they, too, have had to endure the pain. They are the ones who have had to go through the hard years with us, when we were being molded through the rejections, the pressures, and the difficulties that built our character.

The prize is always greater than the price! Nothing good can ever be built in our lives without good character. It affects every area of our personal existence—our decisions, our words, our actions, our attitudes, our goals, and our relationships.

Lastly, if we do not fix our character before we attempt to work on anything else in life, we will only experience failure after failure. We may begin to build, but it will crumble. We may attempt to prosper, but it will be as if our purses have large holes in them. We may expend enormous amounts of energy, but all our efforts will come to nothing. Remember, every failure—in marriage, personal habits, workplace, business, or public policy—can be traced back to a failure in character, almost 100 per cent of the time.

Till I come your way again next week Monday, see you where leaders with rock-solid character are found!