30 May 2024

Chaplain's Corner

Chaplain's Corner
Chaplain's Corner
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Recently, in various settings across our school, I have presented a message relating to the importance of developing strong character. To promote thinking, I began by sharing the following passage of Scripture:

‘Teach and do good and Godly things … don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Show people with your life and example: through your words, attitude, love, faith, and integrity … Continue giving advice … offering assistance … Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. Then people will see you grow and mature before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your learning. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it.’
1 Timothy 4:11–16

Despite the fact we live in a wonderful world full of amazing people, places and opportunities, we continue to hear negative stories that dominate all forms of news feed: stories focussed on politicians, community leaders, sporting figures, celebrities and regular members of our community, behaving badly.

Each time I read another similar story, there is one word to which my attention is drawn – character.

The dictionary definition of character refers to the internal qualities of an individual: their values, standards and integrity demonstrated through personality traits, behaviours and actions.

Author Dwight Moody said, ‘Character is what a person is in the dark.’ One of the greatest tests of character is to answer the question, ‘How do I behave when I think no-one is watching?’ Character begins with our thinking, and is demonstrated to others when our internal qualities become externally visible. When we speak or act our character is revealed.

Former USA President Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.’ Roosevelt understood the value of strong character, both individually and collectively.

The English word character has its origins in the Greek word kharakter, meaning ‘to write, print, engrave, stamp, brand or inscribe’. External imprinting, stamping or branding (outside influences) will impact the development of our character.

We recognise an accidental cut on our knee will form a scar and remain with us, and the printed word will remain on the page – likewise, qualities that are added to us, embedded in us, or imprinted upon us, will begin to shape our character.

Therefore, surely, we would want to be aware of who and what we allow to have an impact on our lives, and perhaps we might begin by asking ourselves a difficult question: Who or what is shaping my character?

  • To whom am I listening?
  • Whom do I follow and imitate?
  • What influences am I allowing to impact my thinking and affect my actions?

We will find ourselves in situations requiring a response, and our character will be demonstrated every time we respond.

‘By their fruit you will recognise them’, suggests a passage in Matthew 7, acknowledging that people recognise us by the results and outcomes emanating from our decisions and actions.

We will be recognised by our fruit: the behaviours we display – our character.

Our challenge is to self-reflect, honestly. What are my character traits? Am I known to be kind, caring and respectful? Or do I have a different reputation currently which may benefit from reflection and change?

Life is not about keeping other people happy or trying to prove yourself, but we are aiming to make a positive contribution to the community. Great decisions are generally made by people of great character.

Be encouraged to be a person of great character. Start building positive character traits. If you do, you will have a positive impact on those around you. Bless you.

Revd Tim Edwards
Lead Chaplain


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