Here’s a fact: it’s harder to live like Jesus in this time more than any other. And it’s only getting harder. This is why I started JesusHacks when I did. Today’s society upholds things that don’t necessarily equal a meaningful life.
But what makes living like Jesus so difficult today? Simply put, we value other things over our character.
In fact, many of us neglect matters of character. We’ve abandoned concern for character in lieu of career success and money.
David Brooks, in his book The Road to Character, explains this difference as “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” Today’s society prides itself in resume virtues—the skills that contribute to your success—but almost entirely neglect eulogy virtues—the inner qualities that get talked about at your death.
There needs to be a change. Matters of money and career success should no longer impress us because they don’t always lead to meaningful, happy lives. Matters of character should be the things that impress us.
Consider these few items of character that I recommend should be the object of our awe, admiration, and respect:
1. A family man.
In a society today where many men are overly absorbed in their own work at the expense of others, a man who holds his family above his own needs and desires should be celebrated. Too often, we see men who use their hard day at work as an excuse to zone out and be detached from their children. But a man who fights against this is one who truly understands his role in his children’s life.
2. A woman who cares more about internal beauty.
Women today are constantly told to be someone else to feel love and self-worth. It is the practice of a very smart and wise woman to look past these messages and know that beauty is defined by something skin-deep. A woman who knows and practices this idea is truly one of a kind.
3. People who get married.
Marriage isn’t held with high regard anymore. People say “it’s only a document” or that “love is enough” and stay in relationships without getting married. Yet the truth is, they never fully commit to each other. There’s still a next step for them to accomplish in life, and if they don’t decide to take that step together, there’s always something more that could be done to express their commitment and devotion to the other—no matter what they might believe. The couple who decides to commit to each other so much that they enter into the promise of marriage deserve more praise than they are given.
4. A person with direction, but no clear plan.
Society loves people who fit in with a clear-cut plan and formula. After all, climbing the ladder of success is a strategic affair—no one does it without a plan of attack. But the person who has direction is someone society often overlooks. These people might not have a clear-cut plan, but they do have a vision that’s taking them somewhere. What we celebrate with these people is their bravery. Others might deem their lack of a plan as being foolish, but their willingness to follow their vision in spite of this is a bravery that deserves applause.
5. A small space that welcomes many people.
Today, our society favors space. We love keeping to ourselves and not letting others into our space. But some people I know have spaces that are small, but full of love. They constantly welcome people into their home, despite not having the best accommodations.
What would it look like if we didn’t care about how clean or how small our space was, and still invited people into our home?
This hospitality is what adds character to a home.
6. A person who doesn’t post their accomplishments on Facebook.
We live in a self-promoting society. We love to announce what new workout routine we’re doing, what promotion we got, or what new fad we’re currently sporting. Yet there are people who don’t feel the need to toot their own horn. They’re content to let their accomplishment sit without public praise. These people are impressive because in today’s world, it seems that we have to be self-promoting if we ever want doors to open for us. These people value something more than their own advancement—and that’s honorable.
7. Children who know how to judge between right and wrong.
Parents today don’t want to claim much responsibility for their children’s sense of morality. They just hope their children don’t end up in jail, but anything higher than that is too much work. Yet, when children know how to make moral choices time and time again—all the way into their adulthood—that’s impressive. It shows that their parents were concerned about more than whether they received external success or not. They were concerned about their children’s heart.
8. A life that values impact over income.
And finally, many of us would ditch jobs or endeavors that weren’t instantly making money. But the people who choose to stick with the endeavors that make an impact without making much money are people who are concerned for the common good. These are the people who become heroes, not the ones who favor their own ends.
A change needs to happen in our society. We need to change what we value if we want to be a society of character. But to do this, we must first change what impresses us. Let matters of character speak louder than our money and career accomplishments. That’s when we’ll see a different, better society.
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