To excel in character, we must come to the place where we recognize the necessity of absolute in our lives. That means every personal action and choice is determined by a pre-set code of principles, which becomes our decision-maker, even when the world thrusts its pain upon us. And as we embrace right principles, even in the face of great opposition, the tide will begin to turn for us, and success will begin flowing in our direction.
This is not an overnight process. It takes time to learn how to work this out. The summation of the principles by which we daily live our lives (the extent to which we act on what is right, even when it hurts) will determine how much favor and real success we walk in.
In fact, strong character is tested character. Abraham Lincoln is a good example of a man who walked in character and integrity, no matter what anyone else said or did. But “Honest Abe” did not learn how to walk as a man of principle overnight. He endured many difficult challenges through the years, as the trials of life tested his character. He is remembered as one of the United States of America’s most beloved presidents; yet, he endured failure after failure in his personal life and political career. History records that Mr. Lincoln lost 18 elections and suffered several heartbreaking personal setbacks before he was elected president.
Until the time came for his influence to come to the forefront, Mr. Lincoln’s character was tested in private, each test revealing whether or not he would consistently do the right thing. Through each challenge, he passed the test, and the day came when he was promoted to lead America through what could possibly be called her most embarrassing hour—the Civil War.
Whether we realize it or not, we are being tested at this very moment. Will we do what is right, or will we compromise? Will we do what is convenient and easy, or what is difficult but ethical? Remember, no one becomes a rock-solid leader without first being tested. Today, as you are being tested, are you doing what is right or you are compromising?
Each and every trial we face drives us either closer to or further away from our purpose in life. We will eventually reap the consequences of every choice we make. Every time we make a choice, we sow a seed. That seed goes out into our future, takes root, and eventually brings a harvest of consequences, whether positive or negative, into our experience.
People often sow seeds of bad character, reap a harvest of negative consequences, and then point their finger at others and say, “You didn’t come through for me!” People ruin their lives by their own foolish choices; yet they are angry with others, blaming someone else over their own failure to exercise wise judgment.
As we become people of character, we will avoid this trap. If we choose to act with integrity, we will pass our “character tests” and become genuine, positive influencers of others. Our lives can beneficially influence others only to the degree that we are willing to walk in nobility of character. Do you want to become an influencer? Then pay more attention to your character.
We must stay continually aware that the situations and circumstances of life are testing us every moment of every day. It is how we respond to these tests of character (with either a positive or a negative response) that will determine the outcome of our lives.
From a negative perspective, tests come to discourage, deflate, or destroy us. On the positive side, they come in order to merely position us for a better and stronger future. Just as there is no opportunity for advancement without a final exam, there is no triumph without a proving ground. Good character is not the goal, but rather the key that unlocks the door to fulfilling life’s purpose.
It is wise to not despise the testing grounds of life. A test is merely an objective tool by which we are drawn into the Universal Law of Sowing and Reaping. That law is timeless and unchanging; it will be in operation as long as the earth remains. Like the law of Gravity, the Law of Sowing and Reaping has been perpetually set in motion, and there is nothing you or I can do to change it.
We have the opportunity to change the natural course of our lives by sowing seeds of character. Whatever seeds we sow, whether good or bad—that is the kind of harvest we will reap. Many say, “It doesn’t matter what I do; I will be fine.” A lack of character will always produce unwanted consequences, whether you know it or not.
The question is; what does the future hold? That’s the issue, friend—character. How long are we willing to stand? Are we willing to live, for the rest of our lives, under the pressure that comes from holding fast to what is right and true? If so, the door of an unlimited, positive future will remain open. Yes, we will face many difficult obstacles. But even in the midst of adversity, we will continue to rise to ever-higher levels of excellence and favor, as long as we do not stop sowing the right seed.
We only get out of life what we are willing to put into it. The earth is programmed to bring forth a multiplication of what we sow. People or circumstances may try to stand in our way, but nothing can stop our harvest from coming forth. All we have to do is put our seed in the ground and leave it there, no matter what winds of adversity blow against us. As we do, the Law of Sowing and Reaping will work—not part of the time but all the time.
The problem is, we live in a microwave society in which people expect instant answers. Too often, we wonder, waver, and ultimately pull our good seed out of the ground, because things aren’t happening as quickly as we think they should. As a result, we stand in danger of cancelling out our moment of change. Remember, sowing and reaping are the governors of destiny! Till I come your way again next week, see you where leaders of rock-solid character are found!
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