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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

Character Makes the Man

“Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual…”
~Theodore Roosevelt

Five children are playing outside their home in a local neighborhood. Walking in the grass—alongside the road—something catches their eye and one of them stoops down to pick it up.

“It’s a billfold!” Stephen, the oldest, shouts.

The younger children swarm him. “Let me see –“

“No, let me see!”

“Whose is it?”

“What’s in it?”


Stephen raises the billfold out of arms reach, and breaks away from the crowd. He opens it up. Inside he discovers cash – almost $100, a lot of cash to a group of young children—but there’s no identification.

“Ooooo….can we keep it?” the children cry in unison.

“Let’s just take the money and put the billfold back,” one of the children suggests.

“But maybe the owner will come back for it and need the money,” says another.

Stephen walks a short distance away from the children, deep in thought.

Will his character play a role in his ultimate decision?

What is Character?
Individuals possess good character or bad character. Our character is a habit, the way we think, speak, or act, by nature. Character is usually determined by a presence of – or lack of – moral and ethical strength. Good character helps us distinguish between right and wrong. The choices we make in daily life reflect the type of person we are.

Right choices from individuals make for a better world, and to bring this home – a better dating relationship: Good character strengthens relationships by promoting a relational intimacy that isn’t available to those with a bad character.

Set Apart by Your Character
Many of us consider ourselves good judges of character. But, if you had to analyze your own character, would you pass the test? Be honest with yourself as you ask the following questions:

1. Do you walk with integrity?
Are you what you say you are; or are you inconsistent and misleading?

2. Are you honest?
Do you speak the truth, and keep your promises, even when it hurts; or are you evasive, dishonest, or sneaky?

3. Do you respect others?
Are you courteous and reverent; or do you slander, look down on, or condemn the actions of others?

4. Are you compassionate and kind-hearted?
Are you concerned and sympathetic; or are you cruel-hearted or indifferent?

5. Are you self-disciplined?
Are you careful and calculated; or are you slothful or indulgent?

6. Do you despise wickedness?
Are you shocked by evil deeds; or are you immune to them, as long as they don’t affect you first-hand?

7. Do you value those of virtue?
Do you show a regard for good character; or do you take it for granted?

8. Are you known by the company you keep?
Are you around good people who make good choices; or do your friends bring you down?

9. Are you reliable?
Are you trustworthy; or questionable and unreliable?

10. Are you faithful?
Are you worthy of trust; or are you disloyal and backstabbing?

11. Are you sincere?
Are you straightforward; or two-faced and complicated?

12. Are you generous?
Are you hospitable and lavish; or stingy and meager?

13. Are you patient?
Are you accommodating and easy-going; or easily ruffled and angered?

14. Are you humble?
Do you behave modestly; or are you overbearing and arrogant?

Time for Change
Maybe you have good intentions, but found that you didn’t do well on the self-analysis. Don’t give up yet. Character is a habit, and habits can be developed. I read once that even when a tree has been chopped down, there is still hope. As long as the tree has roots in the ground, it still has a chance of developing new sprouts. Development of good character is possible when we are willing to work on our value system.

We have a sense of moral goodness to drive our conduct – it’s called our conscience. Good character can be developed as we make a deliberate effort to utilize our conscience to advise us to do the right thing. It’s necessary to learn how to incorporate actions that will develop the habit of good character.

Woodrow Wilson said, “If you think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.”

Our conscience is always faithful to warn us, and instruct us, in the right direction.

And good character often comes with its own reward. Stephen and the children decided to turn the billfold into the neighborhood property association. The management agreed to put out notices to search for the rightful owner. No one came forward. After a 30-day waiting period, the management office rewarded the children’s honesty by giving them the money.

Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: A Better You is published every Saturday.


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