In reading AW Tozer’s Root of Righteousness today, I was moved again by these words:

Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles. The fruit of a free is determined by the tree, and the fruit of life by the kind of life it is. What a man is interested in to the point of absorption both decides and reveals what kind of man he is; and the kind of man he is by a secret law of the soul decides the kind of fruit he will bear. The catch is that we are often unable to discover the true quality of our fruit until it is too late.

Think about this…our fruit is what we ARE. Our depth of success, fulfillment, impact, significance and abundant living (John 10:10) is in direct proportion to what Tozer calls the secret law of the soul – our character.

And, according to Tozer (my bullet summary) we need to do the following.

  1. Focus on those things that are truly important. He calls this the “power of affinity” when he says By affinity I mean the sympathetic attraction which certain things and persons have for us. The human heart is extremely sensitive and altogether capable of setting up an inward relationship with objects far removed and forbidden. As the needle of the compass has an affinity for the north magnetic pole, so the heart can keep true to its secret love though separated from it by miles and years. What that loved object is may be discovered by observing which direction our thoughts turn when they are released from the hard restraints of work or study. Of what do we think when we are free to think of what we will? What object gives us inward pleasure as we brood over it? Over what do we muse in our free moments? To what does our imagination return again and again?
  2. Watch your mood. Mood is mental weather. It is internal climate and it must be favorable to the growth of spiritual graces or they will not appear in the soul. The Christian who allows day after day a chilly climate to prevail in his heart can’t expect God’s blessing!
  3. Spend time in God’s Presence. One swallow does not make a spring, nor one hot day a summer; nor will a few minutes of frantic praying before service bring out the tender buds or make the flowers to appear on the earth. The field must be soaked in sunshine over a long period before it will give forth its treasures. The Christian’s heart must be soaked in prayer before the true spiritual fruits begin to grow. As the field has learned to live intimately and sympathetically with the rain and the sunshine, so must the Christian learn to live with God. We cannot in a brief time make up for the long neglect of God and things spiritual.

So what is your experience? How have you seen fruit flow from character?

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Mohanda Gandhi wrote the following words in the book, The Roots of Violence.  I like this. What about you?

Wealth without work,
Pleasure without conscience,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity,
Worship without sacrifice,
Politics without principles.

I’ve had some great questions about how to distinguish character, integrity and values.

Values are simply what we consider important.  We do what we value. We are all value driven. The question is whether or not our values are good ones or bad ones.

Integrity is one of the core positive character qualities.  The word integrity comes from the Latin word ‘integritas’, meaning wholeness, coherence, rightness, or purity. Integrity has been defined as consistency between word and deed or “the perceived degree of congruence between the values expressed by words and those expressed through action.”1

Character originates from the Greek word charassein, which means to scratch or engrave.
Referring to a person’s character is a way of recognizing that person’s idiosyncratic attributes
or features.  Character can be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.

Definitions of character vary. Hillman defines character as an “invisible source of personal
consistency” and “deep structures of personality that are particularly resistant to change.2
Other definitions differ: from explaining character as an individual set of attributes that deal
with “doing the right thing despite outside pressure to the contrary,”3

Fundamentally good character is the positive, healthy internal habits that you develop that results in ultimate, authentic success. Good habits = success. Bad habits = failure.

The character crisis we are having now is based on the reality that we have lost the straight lines needed to form healthy habits that become our foundational character.

Things to read…

1. Woden, S. (2003). The role of integrity as a mediator in strategic leadership: a recipe for reputational capital. Journal of Business Ethics, 46(1), 31., op cit.

2. Spears, L.C. (2000). On character and servant-leadership: ten characteristics of effective, caring leaders.  Concepts & Connections, 8(3).

3, Barlowe, C.B., Jordan, M. and Hendrix, W.H. (2003).  Character assessment: an examination of leadership levels. Journal of Business and Psychology, 17 (4), 563-584.

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I’m grappling with the role of character in our worldwide culture? How much of our successes and failures personally and professionally come from our character?

“Within the character of the citizen,” Cicero said, “lies the welfare of the nation.”

What think ye?

Are we facing MOSTLY an economic crisis or a character crisis right now? I wonder! Undoubtedly the economy is a mess. But wasn’t it the greed, arrogance and self-absorption on wall street along with the get-rich-quick mindset, greed and selfishness on main street that got us here. And, as people are responding now, don’t we see fundamentally a response that flows from character or lack of it? Think about it… fear, blaming others, denial, worry, dishonesty, inappropriate anger (I think there is plenty of good anger needed right now)? And the biggest issue to me.. how do we start to make adjustments based on good character.. taking responsibility, kicking in the work ethic, caring for others in need, being generous, providing positive solutions, etc. What do you think?