Written by Nicasius Kamani


Part 1: The Six Pillars of Character


Someone once observed: “Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared; but only men of character are trusted” (Author Unknown)

It has been said that character is the foundation for all true success. A person may have intellect, money, position, or power, but unless he has good character he is not considered to be truly successful. Look around and point to me one person that is highly regarded in the society, who at the same time lacks good character. There is none! Our character is not just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching. Good character is doing the right thing because it is right to do what is right.

Today’s world faces many difficult problems: loose morals, escalating crime, greed of all kinds, self-defeating competition, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, gang activities, vandalism, school dropouts, deteriorating work ethics, domestic violence, broken families …name it. The list is simply endless.

At their root, is the lack of good character qualities. If we are to find lasting solutions to the problems of our day, we must deal with these root causes! We must first work to improve our own character, then teach good character to our children, and help those around us to improve their character. Character development is essential to the ongoing success of our society. It is essential to the growth of Christ’s church. Character improvement is a key to our own spiritual growth! We all need to enroll ourselves to self improvement —or if you like, to character improvement—in order to be at our best throughout this year.

Biblical Examples

Several scholars have over time tended to define and group character in terms of moral duties and virtues that flow from six core ethical values— the Six Pillars of Character:

1) Trustworthiness: As Christians, we are to be like our Lord and Saviour, and strive to be people worthy of trust. A trustworthy person is honest, has integrity, keeps promises, and is loyal. Across the bible, we evidently see God choose persons of integrity to do great things in the history of mankind. Here is an example:

He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. (Psalm 78:70-72)

God took David from the sheep pens—from tending the sheep—and put him in the highest office to shepherd his children. God could have used other people to fulfill his purpose. But, he decided to use David, terminating the tenure of King Saul because the king had failed to live up to his trust (1 Samuel 15:28). In quick succession, God rejected six of Jesse’s sons that were presented as successors to the throne (1 Samuel 16:1-11). And as we know it today, God was seeking a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). And he found the right heart in a young and sturdy shepherd boy, David.

David distinguished himself as a man of integrity. At the time of his appointment, he did not possess the skills required to shepherd the nation of Israel. But God overlooked that weakness and chose to stick with him because his heart was right. Trustworthiness is highly regarded by God that he could easily bestow such a crucial assignment to a teenage boy as long as he possessed it in his character.

God first watches our hearts to test our trustworthiness, and then assigns us various tasks that will advance his kingdom. On its part, the world puts emphasis on human skills over integrity.

Below are a few attributes that define a trustworthy person. I urge you to embrace and make them part of your character:

· Be honest: Don’t deceive, cheat or steal. (Ephesians 4:28; Revelation 21:8)

· Be reliable: Do what you say you’ll do: Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no, or you will be condemned. (James 5:12 and Mathew 5:37)

· Have the courage to do the right thing even if it is costly in earthly terms.

· Build a good reputation because, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1 and Ecclesiastes 7:1)

· Be loyal: Stand by your family, friends, the church and the country.

2) Respect: Another character quality that we need to clothe ourselves with is RESPECT. We need to respect ourselves and remember that every person has the right to our respect. Respect other people’s time and resources; respect others for what God has made them to be. See the value that God sees in his children. When we possess this quality, we lead healthy lives—lives that demonstrate the freedom that God desires for every Christian.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

This passage of scripture gives us a progression of how this character is attained. Respect is a product of a set of lifestyle patterns:

· Leading a quiet life: Margaret Thatcher once observed that “It may be the cock that crows, but it is the hen that lays the eggs”. It pays to lead a quiet life (and this doesn’t mean being silent).

· Minding one’s own business: It is important to precisely know our individual purpose in this life, and focus on pursuing that purpose every day. This kind of understanding will keep us away from ‘poking our noses’ in other people’s business—and worse still falling into Satan’s trap of always comparing ourselves with others and engaging in self-defeating competitions. When we mind our own business our individual productivity increases.

· Working hard with our hands: God encourages his children to work hard with their hands. We need to genuinely earn the things that we have—the jobs that we do, the property that we acquire… name it.

· Then, through daily living, we will WIN THE RESPECT OF OUTSIDERS. It is not handed down to us by a panel of experts or a jury. No, respect is accorded to the deserving as they go about their daily lives. That is why we quickly lose it the moment we are compromised or fail to live up to the expectation of outsiders—and we are left wondering why we no longer attract respect from others.

· Once we possess this attribute in an increasing measure, we will be liberated from many things. We’ll not need to always watch our backs, or be overly concerned about others people’s approval. We’ll not need to live a live that is characterized by perpetual lobbying—constantly seeking man’s assistance and approval.

Jesus is our perfect example in this regard. John 2: 24-25 tells that he would not entrust himself to men, for he knew all men; he knew what was in a man. Below are a few attributes that define a respectful person:

· Treats others with respect: Regard every child of God as such. God values every person, even those who seemingly ‘do not amount to much’ in our own assessment.

· Is tolerant of differences: We all are different from one another. Respect that fact and deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements from others.

· Is considerate of the feelings of others: We need to make an extra effort to be considerate in all our dealings with other people.

· Do not threaten, hit or hurt others: In addition, use good manners, not bad language.

3) RESPONSIBILITY: This character quality is in short supply. We need to be accountable for our own actions, practice self-restraint, and always do our best.

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do–living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing (partying, festivities, riotous behavior) and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation (indulgence), and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:1-5 Emphasis mine)

We are reminded that we have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans do. And the things that are listed here show clearly that pagans (and those not well clothed with this quality) choose a lifestyle that is best described as irresponsible. But God warns us that he expects his creation to be accountable.

· We need to be responsible over our own actions: Let us not be of those who give excuses, people of unending stories. Let us do what we are supposed to do. Let us persevere and keep on trying. Let us be accountable for our choices.

· We need to practice self-restraint: And live within our means—means that God has determined for us today. Use self-control. Be self-disciplined. Consider the consequences of our actions.

· We need to do our best: Nothing much changes until we decide to do more than what is expected of us. We need to constantly seek to improve on the yesterday’s version of ourselves.

4) JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS: Fairness is one of the most difficult values to practice because we easily use on others a scale that is different from the one we use on ourselves. We should try to do what is fair and just. It is easy as Christians to hurt other people, and dismiss or justify it using the scriptures. True justice and fairness are learnt from the word of God. Only a deep knowledge of God’s word will liberate us from this error. Live out the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Mathew 7:12)

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. (Proverbs 2:1-10)

Only a deep study of scriptures could help us act in a way that is RIGHT and JUST and FAIR. (All the three packaged in one). It is after we have allowed God’s word and knowledge and understanding to enter our hearts that we begin to understand what is right and just and fair.

This is what you will learn:

· That we should play by the rules: It is fair that our competitors also get some of the business. We need to practice fair competition. Let us not solicit for information unfairly, gaining unfair advantage over others, and then attribute the outcome to God. Many Christian do unethical things and when the desired outcome is realized, they walk away saying that God has been good to them.

· That we should take turns and share. It is fair that our siblings also succeed in life. This even ought to be our daily prayer for them.

· That we should be open-minded. It is fair to listen to others because everyone has his story. We can’t give a fair assessment or judgment without a sizable amount of information. Let’s learn to listen more.

· Do not take advantage of other. Justice and fairness are attributes of God. And ‘to do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.’ (Proverbs 21:3). And again, ‘If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure.’ (Proverbs 29:14).

5) CARING: Caring is having that genuine concern for the interests of others. As apostle Paul puts it:

As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:6b-8)

He was delighted to share not only the gospel of God but his life with the body of Christ. We ought to be kind and compassionate towards each other, helping especially those in need. We should always express gratitude towards one another. And we ought to always forgive one another and accept forgiveness.

6) CIVIC VIRTUE AND CITIZENSHIP: We ought to be responsible citizens of different communities that define us. As Christians, we are subjects of the Body of Christ. As Kenyan nationals, we are citizens of this country. We should learn to do as follows:

· Share with others in order to make the church and our communities better. Practice good neighborliness.

· Cooperate with the powers that govern us. Obey laws and rules. Respect authority. Support various leadership organs to make their work a joy.

· Stay informed. Ignorance is not a good option if you are intent on making a positive contribution to the lives of others.

· Protect the environment. God in his wisdom ‘saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’ (Genesis 1:31)


Let us decide to be transformed in our character this year and live fully for God in Christ Jesus.


© 2019 ICOCEA | International Churches of Christ East Africa
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