Honestly, I cringe every time I turn on the television and the news opens with today’s latest example of the character being displayed by our current Presidential candidates. I’m embarrassed for Americans and the human race in general when I hear the comments and watch the display of antics that exposes the character of these individuals. Is that our best? Are any of them built with good character to be our President?

“In temper he was earnest, yet controlled, frank, yet sufficiently guarded, patient, yet energetic, forgiving, yet just to himself; generous yet firm.”

“His conscience was the strongest element of his nature. His affections were tender and warm. His whole nature was simple and sincere – he was pure, and then was himself.”

“Such a nature was admirable constituted to direct an heroic struggle on the part of a people proud enough to prefer a guide to a leader, a man commissioned to execute the popular will but, as in his case, strong enough to enforce his own.”

These are quotes written about the character traits of our sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. In the article by Barrie Davenport titled “20 Good Character Traits Essential for Happiness,” she goes on to describe how character was so important to our society in the 19th century and an essential component of one’s identity. Things began to change in the 20th century as we transitioned… shifted from a focus on virtue and character to a focus on self and material possessions. “It became more important to cultivate personality, influence and alter perceptions than to develop nobility of heart, mind and deed.”

What Is Good Character?

It is what a person values, the way they think, feel and behave. It is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Character is a variety of attributes including virtue, authenticity, empathy, compassion, humility, courage, honesty, respectfulness and loyalty. Christian character is defined as exhibiting the “Fruit of the Holy Spirit:” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

Our family recently lost a loved one. The conversations had when we reflect on those who have passed on are often about the impact their lives had on each of their families, our communities and us.

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” – Billy Graham

What Are the Benefits of Building Good Character?
  • People respect and trust you
  • Improves your relationships
  • Improves the quality of your life
  • You are happier and more fulfilled
  • People will be attracted to what you value
  • You will have a sense of self-control
  • Improves your self respect and self confidence
  • Enhances the success of your personal and professional endeavors
Barrie Davenport outlines the following action steps for building good character traits:
  • Define your core values
  • Practice the habits
  • Find people with character
  • Take some risks
  • Stretch yourself
  • Commit to self-improvement
Developing these traits can be difficult, change is not easy, yet your commitment to building good character will reward your quality of life.

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.” - Heraclitus

As we move toward the upcoming election this year, my hope, my prayer is that the next President of the United States of America would be someone we respect, trust and admire for their commitment to good character.