CHARACTER

Building good character is a process of continuous improvement that requires time, effort, purpose, commitment and most of all, accountability. Why is accountability at the top of this list? Because without it, we would “flat out” fail. Not one of us is strong enough, committed enough, and courageous enough to build good character on our own.

I believe anyone that is serious about improving their character needs to identify and enlist an accountability partner. Such a person must share the values one is trying to establish. A close friend is likely to fill that role even without being asked. After all, watching your back is what good friends do.

Are you ready to make character improvements? Read on.

Character Begins in the Mind

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” — Frank Outlaw

“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” — Albert Einstein

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” — Bible, Proverbs 23:7

Character Has a Standard that is Oblivious to Popular Opinion

“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!” — Theodore Roosevelt

Character is Not About Role Playing

“It is better to be hated for who you are than loved for whom you are not.” — Ron White

Character is Not a Swap Meet

“The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.” — Abigail Van Buren

Character is Dedication to Personal Standards

“Be absolutely clear about who you are and what you stand for. Refuse to compromise.” — Brian Tracy

Character Requires Daily Training in the Gymnasium of Life

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.” — Helen Keller

“Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” — Phillips Brooks

The Greatest Reward

“The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.” — John Ruskin

Character Development is a Responsibility

“Character is a quality that embodies many important traits, such as integrity, courage, perseverance, confidence and wisdom. Unlike your fingerprints that you are born with and can´t change, character is something that you create within yourself and must take responsibility for changing” — Jim Rohn

God Bless,

— CC

© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

A Parable of Grace

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year, regardless of his or her major. Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor’s class. One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.

“How many push-ups can you do?”

Steve said, “I do about 200 every night”

“200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”

Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time.”

“Do you think you could?” again asked Dr. Christianson.

“Well, I can try,” said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” said the professor.

Steve said, “Well… I think I can…yeah, I can do it.”

Dr. Christianson said, “Good. I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr.Christianson’s class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?”

Cynthia said, “Yes.”

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”

“Sure.” Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’ s desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe, do you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes.” Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?”

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.

When the professor asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”

Scott’s reply was, “Well, can I do my own pushups?”

Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”

Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten pushups.

Scott said, “Hey, I said I didn’t want one”

Dr. Christianson said, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”

Sternly, Jenny said, “No.”

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten….Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say “No” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, “Well, they’re your pushups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want.” And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, “NO, don’t come in Stay out!”

Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, No, let him come.”

Professor Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him?”

Steve said, “Yes, let him come in . Give him a donut.”

Dr. Christianson said, “Okay, Steve, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. “Yes,” he said, “give me a donut.”

“Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?”

Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut?”

Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”

Professor Christianson quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. “Susan, do you want a donut?” Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. “Dr. Christianson, why can’t I help him?”

Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, “No, Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.

When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.”

“Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?” As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said. “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, ‘into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.

“Well done, good and faithful servant,” said the professor, adding, “Not all sermons are preached in words.”

Turning to his class, the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not only His Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid.”

“Wouldn’t you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?”

— Source: Various Internet sites; earliest found was at www.edevotions.org.

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FORGIVENESS

Most of us harbor regrets, large or small, important or insignificant. Regrets include both things we wish we had done and things we wish we had not. These “things” come in different forms: thoughts, words, and deeds. In all cases, these regrets are mistakes we wish we could undo.

The mistakes I regret most are things I did not do, like passing up the chance to meet Rod Carew when I was 12 years old. I regret times I settled for mediocrity by not giving 100%. I regret not staying in touch with friends and family. Sometimes I regret not speaking out. Other times I regret not keeping quiet.

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” — Laurence J. Peter

“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” — Sidney J. Harris

Mom used to explain to us kids that we had a little voice inside called a conscience that helped us understand the difference between right and wrong. Dad helped us “regret” those times when we ignored the voice (if you know what I mean.) Eventually I grew up and found creative new ways to cause regret.

“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” — Alexander Graham Bell

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” — Norman Cousins

“Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.” — Mason Cooley

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” — George Sand (1804 – 1876)

Now the good news. There is a regret remedy called forgiveness. One aspect of forgiveness is that which you grant yourself for not living up to your standards, for making a mistake, for failing and for letting yourself down.

“If you haven’t forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?” — Dolores Huerta

“Forgiveness is almost a selfish act because of its immense benefits to the one who forgives.” — Lawana Blackwell, The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark

“Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.” — Joan Lunden

One of the most familiar quotes on forgiveness is attributed to Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744):

“To err is human, to forgive divine.”

Then came this sequel from Franklin P. Adams (1881 – 1960):

“To err is human; to forgive, infrequent.”

Finally, in the 1980’s the following was in vogue:

“To err is human; to really foul things up requires a computer.”

Seeking forgiveness for harm caused to others is quite simple in theory — in practice it can be very difficult. The Bible offers the ultimate forgiveness model.

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive those who sin against us.” — Luke 11:4

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” — Colossians 3:13

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ’I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.

“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

— Matthew 18:21-35

God Bless,

— CC

© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

Significance vs. Success

What is success? Today’s view, in Western culture, defines success in terms of fame and/or fortune. For example, people are considered successful when they reach the highest levels of their chosen endeavors. Trophies, awards, bonuses, job titles, certificates, prizes and the corner office are treasured symbols reflecting success. Likewise, houses, cars, boats, and club membership are the trophies of financial success. You might recall a once-popular bumper sticker that read “The one with the most toys wins!”

I believe success in these terms falls short of true success. Brian Tracy, who is in the people-building business, wrote,

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ’What’s in it for me?’”

However, since it is difficult to change the vernacular, let’s use a different word.  How about significant?  To me, being significant means living an unselfish life that puts others ahead of self. The result is a legacy defined by the number of lives impacted, rather than the size of a bank account. Tracy and others teach that fame and fortune don’t define success, but are the natural benefits if we don’t make them the goals. Even in the dictionary, “significance” precedes “success.”  I wonder how much better the world would be if more people focused on leaving a legacy of significance.

“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.” — Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, September 2002

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” — Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

“There are fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is surely yours is the present, hence this is the time to speak the word of appreciation and sympathy, to do the generous deed, to forgive the fault of a thoughtless friend, to sacrifice self a little more for others. Today is the day in which to express your noblest qualities of mind and heart, to do at least one worthy thing which you have long postponed, and to use your God-given abilities for the enrichment of someone less fortunate. Today you can make your life – significant and worthwhile. The present is yours to do with as you will.” — Grenville Kleiser

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” — Bible, Matthew 7:12

As we live our lives, it’s important to realize that everyone leaves a legacy and that we get to choose whether our legacy will be one of significance or something less.

God Bless,

— CC

©Copyright March 2011, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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