Strong Character

American novelist, G. Michael Hopf, once wrote, “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” There is much truth in this quote. However, I want to add something: “Hard times create men of character, men of character create good times, good times create men of weak character, and men of weak character create hard times.” We are not products of our circumstances, but rather our choices. What we choose to do will ultimately affect our circumstances. The weaker we are, the easier it is to succumb to the pressures and struggles that enter our life. The weaker we are, the more susceptible we are to follow rather than lead. The weaker we are, the harder our life tends to be.

With the constant noise from social media and news outlets, it becomes difficult to hear the truth. Let’s face it, if we are still thinking that news and social media is spreading truthful information without any bias, then we have become weak minded and lazy. Truth can only be found through constant and fervent searching. Truth is very much like success; it can only be achieved if we work for it. Weakness is following blindly, or thinking that we need not to do anything to become successful. Weakness of mind, body, and will leads to a weak character.

The more we allow ourselves to succumb to laziness and excuses, the more difficult our circumstances. Life is not easy, and I don’t believe it is supposed to be. Easy produces laziness. It also creates a society that lacks integrity and character. It is easy to be loud, obnoxious, demeaning, and forceful, but it’s difficult to stand for what is right in a way that does not compromise your integrity or character. 

When I consider strong men and women of character, I think of individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Adam Brown and Chris Kyle (former Navy Seals), Abraham Lincoln, Malala Yousafzai, and many more. All of these individuals have something in common. They all stood for what was right and went through extreme hardship and adversity, but never wavered in their integrity and character. They were strong willed, and they lived their convictions with passion and fervor. These individuals provoked positive change in the lives they impacted. 

I have noticed that today’s culture wants to focus on global change rather than individual change. This is where the forcing, manipulating, and bullying comes in. This is a sign of  a weak character. Weakness of character is thinking you need to change the person you are sitting next to, your in line with, or the person who thinks differently than you. Strength of character is being able to look in the mirror everyday and focus on changing the person staring back at you. Global change starts with personal change. 

During his time deployed in Afghanistan, Adam Brown, a devout Christian and former Navy Seal, a fellow Seal told him, “I don’t understand how you can believe in God when we do what we do.” Adam’s response, “I can’t believe you don’t believe in God when we do what we do.” Adam was known to stand his ground but was never forceful about his beliefs. People around him would leave energized and feeling better about themselves. This is a sign of a strong character. Standing for your convictions is good, but how you stand for them says a lot about your character.

Strength comes through adversity. Every person aforementioned went through adversity. It was through that adversity that they became stronger. They worked on themselves to better those around them. I want to encourage you to be strong; strong in heart, mind, body, and character. Do what is right and do not compromise your integrity. Live out your convictions, but do so humbly. Be willing to listen and learn. Stand for truth, but seek truth. Do not accept every claim as truth. Be men and women of character through the good times and the bad. Do not allow the good times to weaken your character, instead, through it all, be a person of strong character.

Takeaways:

  1. We are products of our choices, not our circumstances. Whether it’s hard times or good times, our choices determine our character.
  2. Stand for your convictions, but do so humbly. Be willing to listen and learn. Seek truth rather than accept it at face value. 
  3. Someone with a strong character cares more about changing the person in the mirror rather than the person they are sitting next to.
  4. Be careful not to be weakened by the noise of society. Stay alert, seek truth, and build a strong, secure character.

As always, stay humble and serve well.

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