Is it only the good who achieve?
April 25, 2007
Yes, success and character are different realities: success, the achieving of what was intended (or close to it); character, one's moral and ethical construct. But it's not easy to link the two, at least in the short term.
Here's the problem: Some whose character is intact when evaluated as leader, seem to have achieved little. They are good and faithful, but show little accomplishment. Could it be their character is unblemished because they've not been tested in places of stress and moments of heat?
I bristle as I read popular writers, secluded in quiet reflection, crafting their judgments away from the litmus test of doing. Neatly they prescribe symmetrical contours of leadership, sprinkled with "musts."
Don't misunderstand. I too love those moments when ambition and institutional self-interest submit to higher values. I treasure that rush when doing good. When others see ethical choices rule, a sense of well being overtakes.
But there are many times when success as a choice rules, fueled by driving ambition. Like Moses. Like King David. Like Peter.
Ah, there's the rub. Character is not latent in personality or upbringing, precluding me from being an "outlaw." Rather character is a protagonist battling my predilections to use "polished technique."
Have you noticed how Billy Graham seems to act with such humility? The issue is not, is he humble? Rather, does he practice humility? When pride struts, humility as choice does battle. Little wonder we are called to "humble yourself."
Character is more than accrued personality. It is what I become when, seeking to achieve is countermanded by good.
Lord, your very transcript describes one "after your own heart." His entrenched character flaws—which did not keep him from You, or more importantly You from him—were not enough to block his desire or attempts to serve You. So today, Father and Lord, keep testing us in fire so that the stuff of character eventually prevails. Amen.
It is sometimes frightening to observe the success which comes even to the outlaw with a polished technique... but I believe we must reckon with character in the end, for it is as potent a force in world conflict as it is in our own domestic affairs. It strikes the last blow in any battle.