Reflections on…Courage, Character, Integrity and Respect

I find myself reflecting on the qualities of courage, character and integrity…and the resulting respect or lack thereof.

I suppose it’s always easier to see these qualities in someone else…and it’s glaringly obvious when it’s lacking. It’s difficult is when someone you’ve respected falls from grace and when they’ve displayed a lack of courage, compromised their character or their integrity is in question.

Disappointment causes me to take a second look. When I have low expectations of someone…when they fail or fall…I am not disappointed. I didn’t expect much to begin with. Their failure only serves to confirm what I already believed. In some instances my expectations may be accurate. In other instances…I may be selling that person short and not leaving room for God to work in their life, change them and transform them.

But when I hold someone in high esteem and they fall from grace…then I keenly feel that disappointment.

I’ve heard it said that God is not disappointed in us…because he knows all. He knows our good points and bad…and our failures don’t take Jesus by surprise.

But we humans…don’t see the whole picture. Sometimes I unwittingly have higher expectations of others than what a real, frail human being can deliver. Sometimes…it’s because a person fails or compromises. I’ve been blinded by my expectations, hopes or beliefs. That fall takes me by surprise…and that hurts.

Sometimes I’ve have been deceived by a pretty picture painted for me…and I fail to take a closer look when I see signs that reveal things aren’t quite as they first appear. I guess one question is…did I paint that picture or did they?

Respect…there are different levels of respect. Some people I respect solely because of their position of authority. But outside of my immediate interaction with them…I have no respect for them. But I “respect the position”.

Then there are folks that I respect their work or the quality of the work they do and their ability to deliver on what they promise.

Some people…I respect their personal character. They display a high degree of personal integrity, honesty and have a good work ethic. They treat everyone with decency. The way they act with me…is the way they act with other people. What’s said in private is consistent with their public persona. I can take their word to the bank.

When someone whom I respect falls…it’s painful. I have to ask myself…did I have too high of expectations of them…and not allow them to be human, frail and room to fail? Did I delude myself into believing a lie? Is it simply a stumble that we all do along life’s pathway of life? Or is it a serious character flaw that I failed to see clearly?

Sometimes I find it easier to “act respectfully” towards people whom I don’t respect…because I know it’s just an act. It means nothing…it’s just because of their position of authority.

But more and more…I find it difficult to show respect to people whom I once respected. I find it difficult to be silent…not speak out. Yet…the wisest course of action may be to be respectful anyway…and to just plain shut up and keep my opinions to myself. After all…I’m the only one that gives a hoot and holler about what I feel.

One question I want to ask is…what will it take for someone to compromise their character? What’s the price that keeps someone from doing the right thing? Do they see it? Do they know it? Or are they blinded all the while deceiving themselves? If they are aware…what does it take for them to make things right? Those questions I have no answer for. Frankly I’m too chicken to ask directly. Now is that a lack of character on my part…or prudence?

I also need to ask what charter flaws do others see in me…that they choose not to bring up? If they said it, would I listen? If it came from someone whom I don’t respect…would I care?

But even as I look at others…I ought to keep a mirror close by and examine and measure myself in these areas too. Being ever mindful of Jesus’ admonition to, “Take the beam out of my own eye before I try to help my brother take the splinter out of his eye.”

Perhaps it’s time to break out Chuck’s CD’s on forgiveness: A Genuine Servant Forgives and A Genuine Servant Forgives and Forgets. I think I need a reminder on forgiveness…and to be ever mindful of my own sins and failures.

Not to excuse or says those failures don’t matter. But in the light of God’s plan and purpose from my life…the only one I should be looking to is God. Not frail man who will disappoint me at one time or another. I need to respond to the failure of others…in the manner I would want them to respond to me when I fail. I need to respond with grace and mercy…as God has towards me. I think I’ve got some work to do…on this score.

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