Character – The Mark of a Role Model

By Jim Grassi

Recently the National Football League conducted their annual draft of college players. It was interesting to listen to the commentators and coaches discuss the importance of prospective players having great character. Several programs have been developed to help the teams cope with improper behavior and destructive personal attitudes that affect the reputation of the team and league.

From a Christian perspective, we are directed by scripture to continually look for ways to encourage, assist, inspire, and devote ourselves to others. If we truly love others the way we want to be loved, we are doing the will of our Lord. When we model a Christ-like love to others we testify to the character of God living within us. The old expression of “more is caught than taught” is true. Discipleship (mentoring) is about presenting a consistent testimony through our actions, attitudes, and words. Remember, our conduct is a direct revelation of our character. Our actions will always speak louder than our words. Like St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Go preach, when necessary use words.” A similar philosophy was projected by Mother Teresa when she said, “It’s about being not just doing.”

There have been precious few folks who have impacted my life by demonstrating a genuine and consistent Christ-like love through their attitudes and actions. Several years ago one of my role models went to be with the Lord. Both in his public and private life we saw great evidence to his great character.

It was interesting to see the numerous reports and commentaries associated with this man’s words and work. Few editorials I read discussed his many worldly accomplishments, but many underscored his courage and integrity. This legendary Hall of Fame coach left a legacy of love and encouragement to his players, fans, and the many community organizations he fostered. Tom Landry was a giant of a man whose character and integrity were unquestionable.

Despite all of his accomplishments in football, after he died the media’s primary focus was upon his outstanding character – his good report. Having good character means that one has a sound moral, ethical, and spiritual under-girding that rests on truth that reinforces a life, and that resists the temptation to compromise.

Coach Landry’s life was not void of hypocrisy or confusion. It was a life with focus and conviction. A pastor friend of mine once asked Coach Landry why he wasn’t in the bidding wars for a certain All-Pro athlete who had stated he wanted to be a Cowboy. The coaches response was predictable, “The man lacks character. I don’t want players who are so full of themselves that they can’t be a team player!”

Jesus felt very strongly about the issue of character. In Matthew 5 we read His famous Sermon on the Mount. One of the purposes for this message was to communicate the requirements for a godly character (to be “like Him”). To be a faithful, committed disciple who has honor and good virtue, Jesus asked His followers to receive and act upon the “declarations of blessedness”. It is only after a disciple becomes humble, compassionate, meek, merciful, kind, pure in heart, and a peacemaker that he can be “the light of the world” and the “salt of the earth” – a role model. Read the declarations on Christ’s magnificent sermon and ask yourself if you are the role model God intends you to be? As for me, I’m daily endeavoring to be a man of greater character.

Let’s Reflect
Who are the people you think of when you consider men or women of great character? What role did Christ play in their lives?

What does Romans 1:16-17 and Hebrews 12:1-2 teach us about character? How can you apply these verses to your life?