Don’t you love hanging out with the person with a dynamic personality, a person of charisma? You hear their passion, the power of their speech and the stirring of their emotion. You think, “Wow, why can’t I be more like that? Isn’t THAT what a real woman (or man) of God is like?” We all want to be people who draw others to ourselves. But does this reveal the character of God?
Man looks at the outside.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7
The world is all about the flamboyant. I think this is one reason why reality shows are all the rage. Sometimes the more outrageous (and idiotic) the more they draw the audience. And if the person is beautiful, talented and articulate as well as flamboyant, they are lifted up as idols. We set movie stars and athletes up as role models for our children. And we measure our worth or value by that standard of charisma.
This often happens in the Christian world as well. The person who has a dramatic testimony of coming to Christ is given a platform to share their story and are held up in high esteem. Perhaps they are given roles of leadership in the church: teacher, deacon, pastor.
But what about the person who faithfully walks quietly in step with the Lord day-by-day?
Are we valuing external qualities over those valued by God? Do we equate charisma with maturity?
Unfortunately, too often that is the case!
God looks at the heart.
When was the last time you heard godly character extolled as a worthwhile pursuit? Probably not often.
This week I’ve been thinking about my spiritual life, my spiritual upbringing (as I prepare to join a reunion of gals from my early Christian days). As I’ve mentioned before (and in my book, Silver Threads), I had an incredible spiritual foundation laid in my life. Evie and Sharron poured their lives into me through their sacrificial love and discipleship. My prayer is that I can imitate their obedience.
The foundation of my training was centered on this truth: God builds character into His children’s lives. I was trained to let the scriptures be used by the Holy Spirit to CHANGE my life, not just puff it up. This is the sanctification talked about in the bible. The daily transformation of my life into the image of Jesus.
In many ways, this is very mundane.
- it’s slow going
- most of it happens below the surface
- generally no one sees it happening
- there is often painful times of pruning
- it’s never pretty
Yeah, not exactly the wild whirlwind of vivacious speech the flamboyant personality thrives on, is it?
He must increase, I must decrease.
He must increase, but I must decrease. Jn 3:30
There are a couple of things I’d like to mention, that I think are important to realize.
1. Being a charismatic personality is a style, not a virtue.
Each one of us have a personality, a style of how we live our lives. Some are extroverts, some introverts. Some of us are more dynamic in our personalities and some are more quiet and reserved. These are all just styles of relating. They are not virtues or flaws.
Whatever our style, we must never confuse that with spiritual maturity. Our maturity comes when we live our lives to point all glory to Jesus, not ourselves. All of my focus comes down to glorifying the Lord, not in placing myself in the center of the glory of man. John the Baptist said it best when he saw Jesus after His baptism and said, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
2. Godly character helps us see Jesus.
Many years ago, when I was a baby Christian, I lived in the backwoods of W. Virginia. There was an old woman in town who was mostly bedridden. I used to go and spend time with her and learn to quilt. She was a sweet and kind woman with lots of stories (78 years of stories, in fact, having come to Christ as a 5 year old).
The thing that I loved more than anything was just to sit in her presence. She oozed Jesus! You know what I mean. Those people who are so much in His presence that it hangs around them like a fragrance. I often think this is what Moses displayed (and covered with a veil) after he’d met with God in the tent of meeting. Effie spent most of her waking hours in deep solitude and prayer. She had most of the bible memorized and quoted chapters off by heart. It wasn’t a pride thing, her eyesight was going and her meditation on scripture was based on her memorization of His Words.
When I visited this woman, I felt like I was standing directly in the presence of the Lord. And I wanted my life to shine like hers when I was her age.
Choose character over charisma.
As you grow in your walk with the Lord, don’t look to emulate the flamboyant charismatic personality. That is merely a style of relation, a personality type. Choose to emulate the character of Jesus in your life.
This will mean years of solitude with Him, of letting Him rip away the sin and to prune the gangly ineffective growth from your life. It will mean sometimes being misunderstood and often ignored. Growing in character is unseen and unsung. But it bears the peaceful fruit of righteousness in our lives. It strips away the fleshly part of me and replaces it with the renewed part of me that perfectly reflects the Son in all I do and all I say.
Are you a reserved person? Be reserved in the fullness of His glory and character.
Are you a charismatic person? Then be charismatic with a desire to point away from you and all to Him, while His character is formed in the depth of your soul.