Developing character is the most important, life long process you’ll ever engage.
The summer of 2003 was a pivotal moment in my life. A series of circumstances had Tahnya and I in the hillls of Rwanda, a short decade after the genocide. My mouth was constantly open on Sundays. Why? EVERYONE, and I mean everyone, seemed to be going to church.
So how does a nation so religious decimate their neighbors with machetes?
One answer is transformed character. The decades of hatred had not been transformed by their religious faith.
Increasingly, the world has become about numbers. Since the enlightenment, and the scientific revolution, we feel we can measure everything by numbers. CEO’s are measured on performance. Pastors are measured on attendance and offerings. Workers are measured on how many cogs they push out in an hour, and salesmen how much they contribute to the bottom line.
Character, the true measure of a person’s moral fibre, is no longer as important. Success can come fast, money faster, if the right connections are made, the right deals done. But character, the thing that makes a man or woman stand out for generations from the crowd, that sort of thing is no longer important.
At 40, my list of accomplishments is not empty but certainly doesn’t read like a what’s what. What I realized on the hills of Kigali that summer was that if the choice came down to being remembered by a very few for the content of my character, or by many for my accomplishments, I would rather choose the former.
Since that fateful moment, I’ve discovered much on my journey to character. The first and foremost is that true moral strength of character is never ever developed by study, or by listening to a lecture. Character is the product of a life sent through the fire of circumstances, and when the daily small choices are made, the building is built.