Jokingly, a colleague asked me what kind of man I want to get married to and I replied promptly, “A man of character.”
“What’s that?” she asked. As I explained to her what I meant, I was intrigued by how little attention we seem to pay to character. We have made so much noise about men with money, men in powerful positions and men who look good that we disregard character altogether. As I thought about that conversation afterwards, I realized that in our checklist of all the things we say we want in a partner, both men and women rarely make character a priority and because of that, when the relationship fails- we end up saying, “You changed” when in fact, the person was always like that, we just neglected to check their character.
Simply put character is who we really are when no one is watching. In the absence of people, after we’ve logged out of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and away from prying eyes- it is then that character comes out. We can pretend to be saints on social media, but the test of character is not when it’s convenient or easy to do good, but when it is difficult and exhausting to do the right thing.
Character comes out when an opportunity to steal presents itself, character comes out when someone flirts with you and you are in a relationship (or married), character comes out when there is a shortcut to make money but it will require you to compromise your standards, character comes out when you lose your money and a friend wins the lotto, character comes out when your relationship falls apart and a loved one gets married; character comes out when you work hard but your business doesn’t do well yet other people seem to be prospering; character comes out when they gossip at the office and they ask you what you think; character comes out when you react in a moment of anger; character comes out in the way you treat others when great opportunities come to you; character comes out when you are put in a position of power…
Sadly, most of these things we tend to overlook but character needs to be a priority even in our own lives.
If you have no business commenting about other people’s private lives- don’t. When you say you’ll do something, do it. When you promise someone that you’ll be there for them, be there. When you say you’ll settle a debt, settle it. When you promise something, deliver. Let your word mean something…
Let your “I love you” go beyond words into actions. Let your meaning of friendship go beyond a WhatsApp message, into presence. Even when no one is watching, stand by your values. Be a person of character so that even if they lie and gossip about you, just the way you carry yourself, your character, will speak for you.
There is nothing more admirable and desirable in a person than character.
Unfortunately, the world tells us to concentrate on the outer appearance, and yes that’s important, but how we look is nothing compared to character because that is the essence of who we are.
Even when no one is looking, be up to good. Develop character.