One of the defining characteristics of my generation is the desire to dream big. We’ve been told we can do great things: write books, reach the world through social media, become famous overnight, launch an idea that makes millions, travel the world, and do whatever makes us come alive.
In a word, we’ve been invited into adventure. I love this invitation. It’s what caused me to devote over ten years of my life to student ministry where I trained heroes by hearing, knowing, and loving young people who had limitless potential. I wholeheartedly believe in helping people reach their potential, but in order to do that, we need a good dose of reality.
When we are told our entire lives that we have what it takes to change the world, we are served a plate of confidence with a side of entitlement. Think about it. If we consistently hear that we can have what we want when we want it, the result is feeling entitled to those things promised to us. This explains why so many students collide with a full-body reality check when they move from High School to adulthood. It’s a lot harder than they expected.
What should someone do when they wake up after an entitlement reality check? Instead of expecting everything we want on a silver platter, we must be willing to step into the crucible of character training before we can realize our dreams.
Extracted from the following Scripture, here are five ways to step into the ring and grow your character…
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God”
— Phillippians 1:9-11
1. Overflow with Love
Since God is love (1 John 4:8), whenever you live out of love, you live out God’s character. Whenever you live God’s character, you strengthen your own. The key here is to marinate your motives in love. This Scripture says love “overflows” which means it is in such rich supply within you that it spills out of you uncontrollably. You can’t help but love everyone you are around. This kind of love starts at the root of your heart. Do you truly love people from deep within your soul?
2. Grow in Wisdom
Be intentional about growing in knowledge and understanding. Don’t chase facts or academic pursuits to boost your ego, pursue knowledge tempered by understanding. In other words, search for truth with a heartbeat, truth that works in real human experience. When you grow in these ways, you will grow in wisdom. Character is refined when guided by wisdom. Who is someone wise that you can meet with on a consistent basis to help you grow in wisdom?
3. Establish Your Priorities
When you say yes to everything, you say no to the most important things. One of the biggest hurdles of this generation is knowing when to say, “No!” We are so busy trying to do everything that we do few things whole-heartedly. It is impossible to do all we do with excellence. The reason we are this way is because we have failed to establish our priorities. I want to ask you to do something radical. Sit down and make a list of the ten most important people and activities in your life. Do the hard work to reshape your life around these ten priorities. Cut out whatever is left. Do this and your kids will thank you for it some day.
4. Live Resolute
To live resolute means to be admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering. When you live resolute, you live a pure and blameless life so on purpose that people admire you. You are so determined to get where you are going that you are unwavering as you enjoy the journey each step. Refusing to be distracted by things that would derail your destiny, you have a razor sharp focus on what God has called you to do with your life. Where do you need to be more resolute in your life?
5. Produce Results
The more you work out what God worked in you when He saved you, the more fruit you will see in your character. This is the source of your effectiveness. God has filled the tank of your soul with the fuel of His Spirit. If you draw your strength from God’s Spirit within you, you will always produce results. You may not see them until you reach Heaven, but they are there. Your strength will run dry but God’s strength never will. When you live from this God Reservoir within you, you won’t steal credit from God because He is the source. Instead, people will glorify and praise God when they see the life you live. Where are you relying on your strength more than God’s? What do you need to do to draw your strength from God?
Character is the cornerstone of your life. If you grow it intentionally, you will build a foundation strong enough to hold the huge dreams God has in store for you. When you grow your character, you position yourself for God to make those dreams come true.