An underrated moment in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz is the freedom that the Wizard experiences once he stops pretending to be someone he’s not. You remember the scene; Toto pulls away the curtain to reveal the unimpressive man operating the machine behind the projection of the “Great and Powerful Oz.” But once exposed, he’s free, and the people gather to send him off as he flies home in a hot air balloon. It’s unfortunate it had to come to that for him, but it doesn’t have to for you. Many leaders choose to pretend until they’re exposed either in one glorious moral meltdown or a series of small leaks where people slowly realize they aren’t who they claim to be. A better approach would be to understand your character, how it has been formed and shaped, and how to position it in a positive trajectory. Some of the influences on the following list are fixed because they are in the past (none of us can go back and re-do our childhood), but most of these influences can be adjusted and shaped going forward. It’s why I’ve added a scripture passage and an assessment question with each character influence.
8 Influences That Shape Your Character
1. Your PARENTS
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5
QUESTION: What values were instilled in me from the positive/negative environment created by my parents?
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 2 Tim 3:10-12
QUESTION: Who has invested in who I am? Who should be investing in who I’m becoming?
3. The COMPANY YOU KEEP
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
QUESTION: Who are the 5 people I spend the most time with and what impact are they having on my character for good or bad?
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3
QUESTION: In what ways have my hardships shaped who I am and what I value?
He (Jesus) said to him (Peter) the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. John 21:17
QUESTION: What is a recent failure and how has it prepared my heart for what’s next?
6. GOD’s WORD
Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
QUESTION: What have I read in the Bible this week that God is using to shape my character?
7. DAILY HABITS
Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8
QUESTION: Which repeatable daily practices can I put in place to become the kind of person people look up to?
8. GRACE-DRIVEN EFFORT
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8
QUESTION: Where in my life do I need to focus on the grind of continual improvement?