Recently my pastor was preaching a sermon on character. As I listened to his sermon, and then reviewed my notes, I stopped and did my own self-reflection. The basis of his message focused on who we are when no one is looking. At the end of the day, are you a person of integrity or are you easily swayed by popular opinion? Another way to think of this is to examine an iceberg. Most icebergs only show approximately 10% of what they are made of and the remaining 90% lies below the surface of the water. People can also be like an iceberg where we only see 10% of who they really are and 90% is hidden.
During his sermon, Pastor Diego talked about the tragic situation with the Titanic and how it went down in 1912 after hitting an iceberg. Information has come forth that shows there were several warnings sent to the ship that icebergs were ahead, but they were either ignored or not taken seriously. By the time the crew acknowledged the iceberg was ahead, it was too late to act. Oftentimes things that are below the surface are ignored or not taken seriously until it is too late. What lies below the surface can sink our lives. What warnings do you have in your life that show you are not quite on course?
When discussing this subject, we must look at the difference between one’s character verses reputation. What is character? It is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Is your character strong and of good quality or is it not so positive? What about your reputation? One’s reputation is the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about them. Some say one’s character is who they really are (including under the surface), whereas our reputation is more about what we want people to think and what we are willing to show them.
I believe we should aim to have our character and reputation in sync with one another. When you are truly the same behind closed doors as you are in the public arena it means you are trustworthy, you walk with integrity and basically try to live an honest life. Ask yourself: is it easy for you to tell the truth about something, even when it is not in your best interest to do so? Are you able to forgive others even when you prefer to hold onto a grudge? What is inside of us will ultimately determine our lives and the choices we make. What is beneath the surface will eventually be revealed.
There are things we can do and practice that can help us align our character and reputation. It is important for us to practice self-discipline. Practicing self-discipline is a good practice for everything in our lives. Self-discipline requires that we do what is right and what must be done; oftentimes, over what we may feel we would like to do. We must also learn to be committed to our core values and convictions. We must be clear on what we won’t bend or flex on that could cause us to make conflicting decisions.
As I’ve shared in other articles I’ve written, much of our lives boil down to the choices we make. The earlier we can establish what we stand for will help us to build our character. Ultimately, we must be true to ourselves. It has been said we can lie to others, but we can’t lie to ourselves. Frederick Douglass said, I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”
Healing Without Hate: It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!