Character

Ryan Holiday, author of The Daily Stoic and several books on Stoicism referred to the recent commencement address by Arnold Schwarzenegger, “If you want to endure and overcome obstacles, it’s not about what you are in life, but who.What he’s talking about is the primacy of character and virtue over recognition and position. Are you going to identify with your stuff or with your abilities? Holiday also referred to Marcus Aurelius’ “epithets for self”: Upright. Modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative.

I read this not long after I had been thinking and writing yesterday about the mess John Ortberg and his board have made of things following a very poor decision on sexual ethics.

But that can happen to us all. We make a bad decision. We don’t seek counsel. When someone inevitably finds out and points to our failure or shortcoming, we rush to cover up as much as possible. We don’t acknowledge, repent, seek forgiveness, make things right, change our ways.

No, we try to make light of our failures and then hide for a while hoping the situation will melt away and we’ll be left with our reputation intact.

I have liked the teaching of some of the mega-church pastors. But events proved that there was little congruence between their words and actions. I’ve learned more about character from “good ol’ boys” working on their cars under a shade tree than from many rich and powerful people.

It’s better to learn from the good examples. Sometimes we need the shock of a bad example to wake us to reality that could be ours. We all have the seeds of sin within. But we can choose to be — Upright; Modest; Straightforward; Sane; Cooperative.

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