The noun character refers to our individual distinctive mental and moral qualities. Character is what we mean when we talk about a person’s spirit, essence, or identity. It is what comes to mind when we think of someone’s nature or ethos. Character manifests itself in our personality, temperament, and disposition. It speaks about our core mentality and makeup.

What are key ingredients of character?

Trustworthiness, kindness, responsibility and respectfulness are key ingredients shaping our character. Although they are not the total sum of qualities that define our character, I believe they are the core components determining the quality of our character. The absence of them means we are of questionable, if not bad, character. If you are untrustworthy, unkind, irresponsible, and disrespectful you simply cannot be a person of good character. Being trustworthy, kind, responsible, and respectful communicates to others that you are a person of good character.

Are you trustworthy?

Being trustworthy requires being honest and doing what we say we will do. It means being loyal and doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. Trustworthy people play by the rules. They don’t cheat, lie, or steal. Trustworthy people guard their integrity closely, being careful to build a good reputation.

Are you kind?

Our world could undoubtedly benefit from our demonstrating greater kindness to one another. Doing simple things like saying “please” and “thank you” go a long way in showing others that we care about them. Having compassion and providing forgiveness are acts that communicate kindness. When we are open-minded and listen to others—allowing them to speak without cutting them off—we are being courteous.

Courteousness is a key component of kindness. Kindness is reflected in us when we share a friendly smile, show a gentle disposition, greet people when we enter a room, stand up and offer our seat to someone, or simply open closed doors for others. Kindness means thinking of others, not just of ourselves.

Are you responsible?

Being responsible entails setting a good example for others by doing what you are supposed to do. It calls on you to go about completing your work because that’s the job you were hired to do. It conveys you’ll do your chores, because that’s what is expected of you. Responsibility directs you to stick around and raise your children because you helped bring them into this world.

But, responsibility also involves a lot more than that. It dictates that you plan ahead. When you are responsible you don’t quit on your team; you persevere and don’t give up. When you follow through on your commitments, you are acting responsibly. You think before you act, consider the consequences, and are accountable for your words, deeds, and attitudes. Being responsible shows in our exercising self-control and demonstrating self-discipline.

In our society, too many kids are faced with growing up in single-parent homes. There are far too many young absentee fathers neglecting their role. It’s easy to make a baby. It takes a grown man to step up and take responsibility for ensuring a child’s welfare and seeing to it that this new life grows up in a loving and caring environment, getting every advantage to be successful. Parenting ALONE is an incredibly difficult challenge too many young moms are faced with; not because the man they love passed on, but because a boy lied to them and moved on, hunting his next conquest.

Are You Respectful?

You get respect by giving respect. We are to respect our elders. Often times, I hear young people talking about how they are owed respect from older people. It is always up to the younger person to show respect first. Life doesn’t owe you anything. Getting respect requires showing respect. Don’t use bad language or show bad manners. Don’t be rude. Be considerate of people’s feelings and tolerant of their ideas, even if they may be different than your own. Truth is, we are all more alike than we are different. However, we do have our differences—and that’s okay.

Getting respect starts with treating yourself with respect. Men—don’t degrade women. Women—don’t degrade yourself. Young people love your old folks. Old folks—help our young people. We can learn from one another.

Respect is earned—not by taking it; but by giving it.

Act Right

Being trustworthy, kind, responsible and respectful are key components of demonstrating character. The quality of your character—good or bad—is determined by how these are reflected in the way you live. The difficult truth is that it can take a lot of hard work and time to overcome mistakes we make due to our flawed character. The good news is that with diligent and intentional practice, you can grow as a person and become someone of good character. It starts by doing the right thing; treating others the way you want to be treated and accepting responsibility for your life. Bottom line—all you got to do is act right.

Be the difference you want to see.

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