Website owner:  James Miller

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What determines a person's character?

   How is a person's character determined?  Life is filled with 
   temptations, obstacles, frustrations, inner struggles and 
   dilemmas that we all have to cope with, things which test our 
   character.  I think character is built according to how we deal 
   with these as children.  It all depends upon the decisions and 
   choices we quietly make within ourselves as we are growing up.  
   And the choices and decisions we make are dependent on such 
   highly personal things as courage, strength of character, 
   personal ideals and standards, etc.  

   How important is teaching, training, and moral instruction for 
   developing the character of a child?  It is probably highly 
   helpful but not necessary.  Why?  Because moral knowledge is 
   within us.  God put it there for us, for our sake.  We all know 
   right from wrong from birth.  Parents, in teaching us, 
   correcting us, and disciplining us, simply reinforce that 
   knowledge of right and wrong within us.  My parents did not 
   spend much or any time actively teaching me moral precepts.  
   They did correct me when necessary on this and that.  I don't 
   think the issues were usually moral.  They expected me to act 
   sensibly and responsibly.  They were strict and used physical 
   discipline.  They demanded obedience.  I was raised on hard 
   farm work.  Neither of my parents drank, smoked, swore or used 
   any kind of low or bad language.  There was no off-color humor 
   in our home and no instances of immoral conduct.  My mother 
   made sure we went to church.  I was raised in a morally clean 
   home.  In that way my upbringing was different than that of 
   many people.  

   I think the character of a child is determined by the extent to 
   which he is true to that knowledge of right and wrong within 
   himself, the extent to which he listens to and obeys the still, 
   small voices within himself.  What voices do I mean?  I mean 
   the voice of conscience and the voice of prudence, wisdom, good 
   sense, good judgment.  The habit of listening to and obeying 
   the voices within creates character.  Plus the habit of 
   reflecting, thinking, and observing life and people.  One 
   observes the virtues, faults and mistakes of others in learning 
   how to live life.  In the creation of character each of us is 
   quietly on his own, silently making personal decisions, unknown 
   to anyone, that will decide his future character.  He quietly 
   decides whether he will lie or tell the truth, do the job right 
   or fake his way through, etc.  It is the prudent, wise child 
   that develops good character.  When one has gotten out into the 
   world and seen much of people one is impressed by the great 
   diversity and variety in the characters of people.  

   I will illustrate with some of my own character traits.  One of 
   the things that distinguished me as a child was that I was 
   persistent.  I would never give up on a problem.  When I 
   couldn't understand some idea or concept in school I kept at it 
   until I understood it.  I wouldn't give up.  I wouldn't admit 
   defeat.  I felt I could do anything anyone else could do.  
   Defeat was unacceptable. I remember this in my childhood.  
   Where did this habit come from?  Did anyone ever teach me this 
   as a precept?  No.  The habit came from within myself.  I 
   instinctively knew within myself that it was very important to 
   me psychologically never to give up on a problem, to never 
   admit defeat.  The habit came from an inner knowledge, a voice 
   of prudence within.  Some people are very careless and untidy.  
   They drop their belongings everywhere and are a mess.  I have 
   always been very methodical and tidy.  I put things where they 
   belong.  Everything has its own place.  Where did this habit 
   come from?  It came from a voice from within.  I don't think my 
   mother had to tell me when I was a boy to put my things away.  
   I put them away because I was a conscientious boy who listened 
   to the voice within. The voices of conscience, prudence, good 
   sense told me to put things away.  Some children are ruled and 
   controlled by the voices of conscience, prudence and wisdom 
   within themselves.  They have good sense, good judgment, and 
   are ruled by it.  They have personal standards and are ruled by 
   them.  They have a personal integrity that they hold stubbornly 
   to.  I am sure that in my case the voices within were connected 
   to my love of the Bible, knowledge of scripture, love of God.  
   I was supported by my strong spiritual foundation, my knowledge 
   of scripture.  I am not perfect.  I have made many mistakes and 
   still feel ashamed of them when I think of them. 

   Do all children hear these voices of conscience, reason, 
   prudence, good sense within themselves?  I am sure they are 
   there within all of us.  God put them there for our own sakes.  
   But there may be some interference.  They may be drowned out by 
   other voices.  What other voices?  The voices of the crowd.  
   Peer pressure.  All the wrong and bad voices impinging upon us 
   from every direction in our modern society.  Our own 
   selfishness or perverse inclinations.  I believe that the 
   greatest enemy of the voices within is the crowd.  When I was a 
   boy I was very skeptical of the crowd.  I didn't  trust it.  I 
   stayed away from it.  I believed then, and still do believe, 
   that the crowd is the great destroyer of morals.  To be true to 
   God one has to walk a separate road.  The extent to which a 
   person is able to maintain his integrity in life depends a 
   great deal on his willingness to avoid the crowd and walk a 
   separate path.  God's way is not the way of the world.  You 
   can't have both --- God and the world.  You have to choose.  
   God's way is not the way of the masses, the majority, or of the 
   intellectuals of this world.  They are all on Satan's road. 

   Feb 2008

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