One of my spiritual mentors, Dr. James Houston, once said, “In the 20th century, character was replaced by ego.” One of my big criticisms in the last
decade of the 20th century was the character of Bill Clinton, or should I say the ego. As New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said over and over, with the Clintons, “It was all about them.
In the 20th century, character was replaced by ego.
I need to come clean. I am a character-first voter. Policy is important, but I want that policy connected to something other than political process. I want someone with good (not perfect) character who can make the right decisions under stress. I also want a man or woman who understands the need for grace when their character has not been sterling. It takes a lot of character to say you were wrong.
I want a man or woman who understands the need for grace when their character has not been sterling.
Policy is something tangible seen outwardly. It is words on documents, laws, executive orders. Policy usually involves compromise and give and take. Policy is much easier to evaluate than character, and we should always be careful when we are judging another person’s character, the place from which their inner motivations come.
Having said that, we have a responsibility to humbly attempt to appreciate good character and depreciate bad character in our elected officials. To be consistent with myself, I have to use the same grading system for everyone in elected office. I can’t give some people a pass on bad character because I like their policy. I feel if I do, then I have a character issue.
The key word is humility.
Between my parents and Jesus, I believe I have been given excellent resources to help me understand character. Perhaps above all else, character is exhibited in not being all about yourself. The key word is humility. My dad, a WWII Marine and life-long Republican, always admired Harry Truman for firing that, “Full of himself jackass Douglas MacArthur.” He just couldn’t stand arrogant leaders. I wonder how Dad would have voted in November.
My mom’s big character contribution was found in the idiom, “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone then don’t say anything.” I found that one a bit of a naïve platitude. If everyone followed her admonishment all the time, I am not sure truth would ever get told. But still, people who can’t keep their mouth shut have a character problem.
Jesus simply raises the bar…
Jesus simply raises the bar on what my parents taught me. If you call someone a fool, then you will be judged. Love your enemies. Return evil with good. I could go on. Jesus did. To the cross. He lived it out. What character! As far as my life goes, I want it to all be about him. I pray for our president to have the same desire. Right now, it seems it is all about Donald Trump. Sorry, mom, that’s not a nice thing to say, but I had to say it.
–Pastor Mark, The Imperfect Pastor
Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19 NKJV)