Character Comment – Therefore by their fruits you will know them, Part 4

Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:20) – Part 4

I started the current string of comments upon the heels of the Timothy Shay Arthur article “Our Daily Life,” now posted on our website at the “The Principal’s Desk.” The present train of thought was triggered by Mark Hamby’s comments found about the necessity of work, as he quoted J.C. Ryle: “Train [your children in] a habit of always redeeming the time… Work attached to purpose excites the soul and drives the spirit in its creative powers.”

Following up on this I spoke again on what it means that, “We care, most of all what kind of person a [student] is” (F. Washington Jarvis), concluding with the idea that “leaving a mark” is at the root of the word character, and that our actions and reactions—how we respond to the events that surround us— is the mirror that reflects our character. It is not our successes or failures that define who we are, but how we respond to them that reflects the kind of person we are, and are becoming. What is notable in all this is that our character is forged with the anvil of our daily life encounters. One of my favorite modern commentators likes to say that, “God created families to teach us how to love people we would not choose to love.” Think about it. The same can be said for our work and the unavoidable contact our endeavors will have with others.

It may be said that nearly 40% of our waking hours are spent on the job. Add to that the time we spend working around the home or on personal projects, and it’s easy to see the necessity of work, and even some of its joy and rewards. Nevertheless, except in rare situations, we have lost the sense of work as a calling. In his classic book The Call, Os Guinness says, “Our life-purpose… comes from two sources at once—who we are created to be and who we are called to be. Not only is this call of our Creator the source of deepest self- discoveries and growth, …[but it also] inspires, …transforms, …is the ‘ultimate why’ for human living, …the road to purpose and fulfillment.” But how do we convey this high calling to our youth? As one early 20th century writer once observed,

“There was a time, in these United States, when a candidate for public office could qualify with the electorate only by fixing his birthplace in or near the ‘log cabin.’ He may have acquired a competence, or even a fortune, since then, but it was in the tradition that he must have been born of poor parents and made his way up the ladder by sheer ability, self-reliance, and perseverance in the face of hardship. In short, he had to be ‘self made.’ The so-called Protestant Ethic then prevalent held that man was a sturdy and responsible individual, responsible to himself, his society, and his God. Anybody who could not measure up to that standard could not qualify for public office or even popular respect.”                                     …to be continued. 

-Joe LoGiudice, Principal