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Posts Tagged ‘cultivating character’

David is one of those characters that I can relate to well. He reminds me of me. David is a strong willed guy who can be pretty self-sufficient. On numerous occasions, David took control of his summit hike. It did not bode so well for him, but he learned a ton of character a long the way.

David was the youngest in his family. He was not so admired by his siblings. This part of the story sounds similar to Joseph’s story. David spent his days as a shepherd in the field, as well as a song writer. He was often excluded from family discussions, or anything that was going on with family business.

One day Samuel comes to visit David’s father, Jesse. I picture the scene playing out similar to that of Cinderella. Samuel is looking to anoint someone to be the next king. He asks Jesse for all of his sons to join him in the house. Like the wicked step-mom, Jesse presents his finest sons. Samuel asks if he has any others, Jesse says, “oh yea there’s my youngest David.”

In my mind the next scene goes something like this: David walks into the house, probably singing a song out loud that he made up. He dances his way into the kitchen where everyone is standing. I can picture David popping a date in his mouth from off the counter top while playing his air harp. His voice fades as he realizes that he walked in on something. Samuel presents David with the glass slipper that fits perfectly and anoints him to be the next king.

Wait what!? If I were David, I would be like, “what just happened?” It’s not like he was then ushered off to the palace and given a ring and robe. Nope. David returned to the field for shepherding and song writing. So how does the dream of being king even happen?

Cue David’s road of wonder.

After some time, maybe even when the dream of king had almost been lost, the tides change. David is sent with a picnic for his warrior brothers. It is on the battlefield that David is presented with an opportunity that makes him one step closer to his summit. David takes on a huge obstacle named Goliath and brings victory to the nation. With this win, David is then ushered to the palace where he is given fame and the one of the kings daughters to marry.

This is the first glimpse we get to David’s dream of being king. Before David ever stepped foot in the palace, God did some character work on him in the fields. God cultivated the character trait of faith in a bigger God. God taught David how to not rely on his own strength. This is a big character lesson for self-sufficient people. It was in the “simple” sheep fields that he learned to care about responsibility, protect the innocent, rise above his fear, and grow in intimacy with his God.

After Goliath, it might have seemed like David “arrived.” He was in the palace, and now son-in-law to the king. Break out the champagne! Sound the alarm for the party, King David had made it to the palace!

But was he king?

David might have been in the palace, but he was far from being king. After a triumphant entry into his new life, he then spent his days playing his harp for the king. David went through more time of waiting for his dream. He could see his dream, but he was playing the harp. Maybe God let David know that even though he was in the palace, he was not too good to play his harp and serve the king. God cultivated his character.

David went through a seasons of taking the reigns of his path, but God cultivated his character every step of the way. At the time David was given the throne, he was ready. Just because he was given the dream years before the actual throne did not mean he was ready for the dream.

How do you take control of your path?

How is God cultivating your character?

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Joseph is a man who’s life bleeds character. Joseph’s story is one of abandonment, heartache, injustice, steadfastness, faith, and redemption.

You see, Joseph had a dream. Joseph was given a dream by God. He had no idea what it meant or how it would even come to fruition, but he had it. Joseph was also a punk kid who didn’t have very many hardships in the beginning of his life. He was the favorite child among his brothers. He was given much freedom and favor from his father. This made for some bitter brothers.

Joseph’s family had a different dream for him. It was not one of success or even joy.

Let me give you the big picture of Joseph’s life.

  • Assaulted by his brothers and abandoned for dead
  • Sold into slavery by those same family members
  • Framed for committing adultery with the wife of his boss, Potipher
  • Thrown into prison
  • Served as prison admin.
  • Forgotten by a man who could have freed him from his prison days.
  • Stayed in prison life for two full years after that hope
  • Went from prison administrator to right hand of pharaoh
  • Saved a nation from famine
  • Reconciled the broken relationships with the same family members who assaulted, abandoned, and sold him into slavery.

That is a ton of bumps in the road for Joseph. He knew deep grief and hurt. Joseph had times of believing in the false summit. Potipher was high up in the kings army, maybe that could be his way to the top? A cup bearer being reinstated to a job even closer to the king, could that be his way out?

God gave Joseph a dream. There was something just for him to do. Nothing about the road that got him to his dream was easy. Joseph never treated God like an easy-button God either. He never asked for an easier situation of circumstance. I am sure he might’ve had unrecorded words with God, but he never took control of his path. Joseph believed in the real summit. Joseph held strong to his dream. Not only did he hold strong to his dream, he held strong to the dream giver.

Everything Joseph did along his path cultivated his character. Everything he was in charge of equipped him for the greater dream.

John Maxwell described Joseph’s process as one “who paid the price of preparation.” He also stated that, “every time Joseph faced adversity, he used it to develop his character. Joseph was able to follow each setback with a comeback.

Joseph spent thirteen years cultivating his character before he was appointed right hand man to pharaoh. By that time his character showed that Joseph was not bitter about any of us unfortunate turns in the road and mistreatment’s. Joseph did not right his wrongs.

One important aspect about Joseph’s story for me is that when Joseph entered into his dream, he did not “arrive.” Joseph still depended on God. He still spent time cultivating his character. In the world’s eyes, Joseph obtained the top job. He made it. But it is in those moments where God will always point upward and say, “keep going, you’re not there yet.

Does your path resemble an unknown way that is cultivating your character?

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Our culture thrives on results. We like to see tangible things that speak to progress. We are a people who like measurable goals and plans. We like to sit back and look at all of the fruit of our labor laid out around us.

But what if God is more about who we are more than the results we are making? What if character is the fruit God is looking for more than a tangible thing?

I have been talking about stories of characters who have definitive paths and dreams for their lives. Joseph was to be right hand man to the king, and David was on the road to becoming king.

What about someone with a life who had a path that was not so clear cut?

Ruth is an amazing person in the bible who exudes character. Ruth was not on a track to be the next king or even some famous warrior. Ruth set a high bar that illustrates commitment and character. Life for Ruth was hard and full of grief. She chose the hard and God blessed her for it.

Ruth was the daughter-in-law to Naomi. Naomi lost both her sons, which widowed both of her daughter-in-laws. This was a huge blow to Naomi, because her sons were supposed to care for her as their father had passed. Naomi was a widow who had no one to care for her. Her two-daughter-in-laws were in the same predicament. However, both women were younger with time to find new husbands. Naomi released the two women from her care and sent them on their way back to their home towns.

I don’t know what made Ruth want to stay. I don’t know what Ruth’s home situation was. I don’t know what she left behind, but she chose the harder road. Ruth left a life and friends she knew to stay with Naomi. Ruth committed to Naomi in a way that went against cultural values. Ruth sacrificed her option of security to return home and get remarried. Instead, Ruth chose to  travel to a place where she knew no one and life would be all unknown. She chose Naomi. Ruth chose commitment and faithfulness.

Cultivating character is not easy. It often does not look like the logical or even best thing to do. God taught Ruth to value responsibility more than results. Ruth treasured faithfulness more than fruitfulness. She chose a life that might have been mocked over what was easy.

I don’t know the thoughts of Ruth after arriving with Naomi to her new life in Bethlehem. I wonder if she just resigned herself to think that this was her life. She committed to Naomi and was going to take care of her. She stayed true to her commitment. God took Ruth’s choice of good character and showed an old town a new level of love and integrity.

God blessed Ruth so much for her choice of faithfulness and commitment. Ruth had no idea what doors would be opened for her, or even what life would bring, but she chose character.

God cultivated Ruth’s character and she was richly blessed. God blessed Ruth with protection and favor. She was given opportunities not usually afforded to women “like her.” Ruth was shown favor by many people. She was even given a husband who had amazing cultivated character as well.

Character calls to character like deep calls to deep.

Ruth could have chosen the easy way, or even the way that made sense to her culture. Ruth chose the hard. When Ruth “arrived” at a life that looked like “just caring” for Naomi, God showed her more.

God cares about our hearts and character above all else. Even in the glimpses of our dreams, we never “arrive” at them. God is always cultivating our character. In that process, we will know more life then thought possible.

Ruth committed to the one who was her path not the path itself. Life looks a little crazy that way.

How is God cultivating your character?

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Ever had those times where you realized that where you are is not where you need to be? I have had a lot of these moments when taking on big mountains in Colorado.

Colorado has mountains called 14’ers, where the summit of the mountain sits 14,000 feet above sea level. Hiking 14’ers gets in my soul. It takes all day to hike to the summit of one of these mountains. The terrain is rigorous and unpredictable. The hike is hard with challenges at every turn. But the view is something I cannot even describe. I have never known another view to physically take my breath away and bring tears to my eyes. Summitting a 14’er never fails to stop me in heavenly awe.

These mountains also come with what is called “false summits.” False summits are just that, false. Being that high above sea level it is hard to gauge what is the “top.” There are plenty of high up places along the hike that can be disguised as the top, but they are far from it. There is nothing like reaching a false summit, cheering for the top, and another passing hiker points upward and says, “that’s actually the top.” Dangit!!

Life is filled with false summits. These are the places where we feel like we have “arrived.” False summits seduce us with victory and the exhale of finishing what we set out to do. False summits seem so great until God comes along, points upward and says, “that’s actually where we are going.”

Lately, I have been spending a lot time just reading scripture. I have read story after story of false summits. There are so many times where difference characters think that they have “arrived” to what God has led them to do, only to realize God was still pointing.

I have realized that in this world, we strive to obtain the top job. With a world view,  you can actually get there, but with God there is no top job. Even if we obtain the dream job or top position, God is still the real top we want to summit.

God has a plan promised for everyone. We are all wired to “do”something. God cares about cultivating our character to get more than what the job is. With God there is no “arriving.” We will always need to depend on him no matter what we are doing or where we are going. Our character is always being developed to be the person he wired us to be. God is always working on our faith and character more than our achievements and end result.

This week, I am going to talk about a couple of people who’s story illustrate the heart of cultivating character.

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