Character: The Most Powerful Force in Leadership

The most attractive attribute of a leader is his or her character. Character is how one can be trusted and the foundation of trust is integrity. There is a famous story about a mother who went to Gandhi, asking him to talk with her son regarding his poor habit of eating candies. Gandhi kindly suggested to the woman that he couldn’t help her then and she should come back in a month with her son and ask him again. When the mom came back with the son after thirty days, Gandhi looked at the child kindly and said, “Don't eat candy.” When the mother was leaving, she asked Gandhi why he didn't tell the son a month ago when she first asked. Gandhi replied, “At that time I was having a lot of sugar myself.” Gandhi, a man who overcame British dominance of the Indian people, peacefully, without wasting a bullet, defeated injustice with the power of his character and conviction. Character is what makes or breaks a leader and without it, failure is surely predictable.

Throughout the Scriptures, the greatest confession about God is He is Holy and One. When looking at the word, “Holiness” in the original language of Hebrew, we find its meaning has nothing to do with religious concepts but instead means,“integrated, wholeness or one.” Holiness is about being integrated and a person considered to be holy is one; he or she is one all together. Their words, intentions and actions are all aligned and no matter when or where, they are always true to themselves. God is trusted because He has character in its truest sense and our most important mission on earth is to align our character with God's.

When talking about character, there are three important factors to realize:

1- Your life is as strong as your character: Our life constantly reflects our character. When our character is weak, we produce weak results and vice versa. Christ in His famous “Sermon on the Mount,” mentions two kinds of people living in the world. He said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Character is a like a house that we dwell in and it is always exposed in the challenges we face. When we build it on a strong foundation, we won’t be carried away by challenges but stay firm in our trials. Our ultimate goal then should be constantly working on our character which is shaped by our values.

2- Your words reflect your character: Your life is the weight of your words, not the language you speak. Don't trust people who speak fancy words but look for the ones who do what they say. Since the mouth is directly related to our subconscious mind or heart, we can understand a person’s inner self by the way he or she talks about other people. Evil words are signs of a diseased heart. Solomon, the wisest king ever to live, according to the Bible, mentions the importance of our heart in our lives and relationships. He said, “As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart.” By working on our character, we are able to purify our hearts and as a result, live a better life directing our words in a positive direction.

3- Your potential and vision is protected by your character: The battle of character is clearly shown in the stories of the Bible. Joseph, a man of character and chosen by God, didn't violate his convictions for a short time pleasure by having intercourse with Potiphar's wife. He was recognized for his integrity and became the second most powerful man of his time. On the other hand, Samson let his people down and forfeited his destiny by being led by his passions and giving in to his lusts. Our character contentiously affects every area of our lives and it is something we constantly deal with in everything we do. When making decisions, we need to have our character in mind knowing they affect our present as well as future.

When we look deeply, we see our legacy is determined by our character. Our daily effort should be based on integrating our words, intentions and deeds. Heraclitus, one of the fathers of philosophy, said, “A man's character is his faith.” What we do in private, will one day expose itself in public and lead our lives. In truth, there should not be any difference between how we live our lives in private as well as public. A constant question of character should be, “Am I staying true to my words with my actions?” There is nothing in the world that can beat a person of character since one's character bestows the greatest power and strength.

Copyrighted by Parsa Peykar

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