We never accidentally find the path to good character. The road to good character is paved with intentional decisions.
What you choose to celebrate both creates and reveals character. On Collin Cowherd’s national radio sports show, Mack Brown, the head football coach of the 2005 National Champion Texas Longhorns, was asked what he told his players after their improbable comeback win over USC in that championship game. He said he told his players to make sure that this was not the best and greatest event they had to celebrate in life. He encouraged them to remember it was a game and they should plan to make a greater contribution to life than just winning a game. In the interview, he expressed how sad it is to hear and see 60 year-old men whose greatest event to celebrate is “the big game they played way back when.” Instead of celebrating marriages, births of the children, and the contributions they had made to life, their identity is defined by a kick, pass, punt, or block which may have been more the result of luck rather than skill. He told them to choose to live a life worthy of celebrating.
Although I am an Oklahoma Sooner fan, I must admit that the Texas coach’s remarks were right and profound. Regularly, the media entertains by telling us about the ex-athletes who have become ex-cons because they failed to make right choices. While these “stars” relive the glory days of yesterday, they miss the good days of today and tomorrow. But athletes are not the only ones prone to celebrate things of lesser value.
We do become what we chose to celebrate. The verb “celebrate” literally means “to frequent” or “to perform.” We celebrate by frequenting the events and circumstances that have meaning to us.
What are you celebrating today? The business deal you orchestrated, or the hug your child gave you when you left home this morning? The deposit you made in your checking account, or the deposit you made in your marriage by being a faithful spouse? The increased property value of your neighborhood, or the knowledge that you have a neighbor who will watch over your property when you are out town? Your adequate retirement provisions, or the certainty that you have eternal life?
People of character have good family and community values. Far too often, family and community values are used only when we are engaging in making political decisions and not when making personal decisions. Today, chose to celebrate the things you have done that strengthen family and build community. By celebrating, you are not only remembering what you have done right; you are recommitting to do it right again tomorrow. The path toward character begins by celebrating the things that really matter!
Goodness and grace to you from a fellow-traveler on the character path.