Monday, August 20, 2007

The Development of Character

I’ve delayed jumping into the national conversation about NFL quarterback Michael Vick because he has pretty much been presumed guilty until proven innocent. Today it is expected that news will be released about his attempt at a plea deal concerning the dog fighting and illegal gambling charges that have already brought deals and sentences to several of his involved “friends”.

I know that several readers of this blog don’t follow sports related news so allow me a couple of sentences to introduce Michael Vick. He was raised in housing projects and because of tremendous athletic ability became a star quarterback at Virginia Tech. For the past 6 years he has dazzled NFL fans with his speed and elusive agility.

Vick represents the “American story” of rags to riches. He currently has a $130 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons and multiple millions come in annually from his product endorsements.

So, let me hasten to say that I don’t want to “pile on” while a guy is down. I’m simply reflecting on the importance and necessity of character.

Every week I have conversations with friends who are seeking to follow Christ and have meaningful connection with God. Often someone’s circumstances will be challenging or difficult and he or she will wonder, “If I’m seeking to follow Christ and allow God to change my life, why are my circumstances still so difficult?” Answer: Because God is more interested in your character than your comfort or career or success.

The bottom line is that if your character doesn’t grow and stay ahead of life’s blessings and opportunities, then those blessings and opportunities will likely contribute to your life blowing up in some kind of way. Vick is an example.

If the horror of dog fighting isn’t real to you take a moment to “google it” and look at a few pictures. It is unbelievably cruel. When you look at mangled animals you wonder how someone can entertain himself with it. Additionally, Vick is accused of brutally killing dogs that could no longer fight.

The dog fighting, betting and hanging out in such a dark world by a superstar, superrich, super famous person leads to the inevitable question: WHY? Answer: His character has not grown to match the stature of his gifts, celebrity and wealth.

So, my post is really not about Vick. It is about you and me. Are we being intentional to cooperate with God in the development of character? Are we growing in the virtues of honesty, charity, patience, generosity, and kindness?

This is not just a matter of “trying hard to be a good person”. This is a matter of being “clay” in the hands of the “Master Sculptor” so that our lives become the “work of art” that God dreamed before our conception.

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