I recently congratulated a friend upon his election to a new community role by commenting, ‘Congratulations! You have been collecting new titles with alacrity!’
His response, ‘I have a few titles. They come and go-but character is what really matters.’
What a wonderful response!
Titles can be fun: ‘The Right Reverend’ and ‘The Very Reverend’ are titles which raise a smile at their degree of overstatement. Surely being ‘reverend’ is sufficiently grand, if not challenging!
Moreover, if this one is ‘the right reverend’, where is ‘the wrong reverend’ or where is the ‘Not-so Very Reverend’, and who of these persons would we want to invite home?
Titles are important designations of leadership and responsibility. We are urged to pray for our leaders both within, and without, the Church.
Leadership will only fully fulfil its roles and responsibilities when infused with life-giving character. Character infuses life into leadership and life into the community.
We are not alone when seeking to strengthen our character.
Firstly, the Holy Spirit is at work within each and every follower of Jesus Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit is that of transforming followers into the likeness and image of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)
This is God’s will for us. (Philippians 1:6) We are being chipped away at or, more Biblically speaking, we are ‘being transformed by’ God, the Holy Spirit. Truly amazing!
Do you recall the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our character?
See Galatians 5:22,23: ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ What a blessing!
Secondly, the Christian community is called to exhort and encourage one another in love and good works and so to grow the character of each and every member of the Body of Christ.
Thirdly, intentional character formation is aided by the intentional ministry of mature Christians who come alongside and assist in giving focus to the Holy Spirit’s work in the Christian’s life. This is often referred to today as mentoring: Christian mentoring. A definition (note 1):
Within intentional, empowering, unique relationships, Christian mentoring identifies and promotes the work of God’s Spirit in others’ lives, assisting them to access God’s resources for their growth and strength in spirituality, character and ministry.
Like my friend I can say, ‘I have a few titles. They come and go – but character is what really matters.’
Thus we are all called to strive and pray:
Transforming Holy Spirit, work in my life and strengthen me to keep in step with your work in my life, that I may be being transformed into the image of Christ. Amen.
Bishop of Tasmania
Note 1: A book by an Australian author which I have found to be very helpful is: Rick Lewis, Mentoring Matters, Monarch Books, Oxford, UK, 2009. Note 1 is on page 20.