The High Cost of Character

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In a recent meeting with several leaders in different fields of entertainment [tv, music, film, even sports], we started discussing people you don’t remember.

These people are legends, even though the everyday public wouldn’t know them if they came up to them and slapped them in the face.

In that meeting, it began with a “hey, whatever happened to…” And then, a “man, if — wouldn’t have messed up.”

These are people that could’ve been the biggest names in their field — individuals whose names come up in locker rooms, recording studios, and in boardrooms when the thought of how big “so and so” could have been… if only.

“Jordan was great,” the conversation goes. “but there was a guy named—that got caught with drugs that would’ve made Jordan look like your P.E teacher.”

You may even know people like that. The high school football star that everyone just knew would be on ESPN one day soon. Or the girl who sang your favorite song in the choir when you were a kid…what happened to her? You hear singers on the radio who cant even come close to her. Her, the high school quarterback, the guy in your theatre class, the smart dude whose GPA made yours look like a slow heart rate.

There are ghosts in every family, school, corporation, and audition lines that haunt the thoughts of those who had a chance to be amazed at their talent, charisma, or possibility… no matter how brief.

What happened to the “almost, not quite, back then, who-so-nevers..?”

Most of the time…it was character.

Talent can take you, but character keeps you.

What separates you from the others who may be better, prettier, taller [that was for me!] and faster may just be the type of heart you choose to have. See the incredible thing about character is that it doesn’t come automatically with the gift. It’s an addition that you have to pay for.. literally.

Character may make you miss out sometimes. There are some that have what they have, but they have paid dearly for it…  and not in positive ways. Some people really do sleep their way to the top. Some will sell what they know to be right just for a spot in the front line. Character may force you to say no to what’s “quick,” and cause you to wait for years until the “long term” comes back around.

Family, if it doesn’t cost you something, be leery of it.  Free is a word that is there just to fill up space, because nothing is. The “great ones that never became” often suffocated in their own greatness. You can’t agree with what the people say, only with what God says. The praise of the people will cause you to build your life on that and not the building blocks of character.

It ain’t sexy, and most people that are confident they have it don’t.

It’s found in the low parts of the king, the hidden parts of the individual who can quiet a room with their voice, their song, or their dream.

Just saying you have it isn’t enough; God has to give it to you. When your enemies admire your choices to be “the least of” is when character shines the most.

To die with untapped greatness inside of you is a sin. To miss the moment you were created for (outside of knowing God and being known by Him) is a travesty. The evening news is filled with headlines of scandals because character was not the main agenda. I agree you cannot legislate morality in our culture, but you cannot avoid holding people accountable.  You can’t let people slide by just because they are charismatic and can “kill” a room.

We don’t have a shortage of greatness, we have a shortage of character.

When a pastor wants people to buy him a private plane while a missionary in Somalia bathes children with sores, that’s a shortage of character. When I camouflage my “greeds” to look like “needs,” that’s a shortage of character. When young students are comfortable enough to sing racial slurs on a bus while furthering their education to someday lead a corporation that may have minorities apply for jobs, that’s a shortage of character…

And it’s something you can’t teach in school.

To all of those legends who are closet stars, to the ones that stand in awe of how they made it and you didn’t, spread the word. Reach back and tell the youngins. Shout it from the White House to Wall Street. What’s killing our country, our churches and our children is a lack of character and it cost what it costs.

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