By Dr. Bobby J. Grossi

Do you stay true to you? By that, I mean, are you your true self in every situation you find yourself in life? Many people behave differently depending on the current circumstances. They behave differently around their spouse than around their friends. They interact with other people depending on whether their spouse is with them or not. They act differently when they’re alone compared to when they know they’re being watched. Someone with true character does not alter themselves or their behavior depending on their current situation.

Mickey Mouse as a Role Model

Mickey Mouse is more than a cartoon character. He’s a good example of what it means to have character. Mickey is the same no matter what situation he’s in. He treats others kindly and is honest, friendly, and well-behaved. He never smokes or drinks or cuts loose. He doesn’t flirt with anyone other than Minnie. You will not see Mickey being anything other than the Mickey you know. Walt Disney was adamant about this. He wanted Mickey to retain the qualities of his character that he is so identified with. He knew that if Mickey’s character was compromised, it would be detrimental to Disney, as well as to the people who had grown to know and love Mickey.

Determine the Character You Want to Have

How can you become a person of true character? Start with figuring out what you value so you can work towards living those values in your life. Here’s an exercise to help you do that. Start by writing down all your character traits on a piece of paper. These may be things like patient, loyal, or sincere. Think of this like a character in a movie. This is what the movie is like right now.

Now picture the same character at the end of the movie. Maybe by the end of the movie, this character looks more like someone you admire and have great respect for, such as a family member, mentor, or historical figure. Now write out their positive character traits. Then analyze the differences between the two lists. You likely have some overlapping traits with the person you admire. You likely have some traits missing, too. These are the character traits you need to work on to become the person of true character you want to be.

Up until now, this has been confined to paper and to your imagination. Here’s where the work comes in. Come up with ways to begin expressing the character traits you want to develop and be proactive in expressing them. If you want to develop the trait of generosity, think about how you can be generous in your own life. You can give more of your time to help out a family member. You can give money to support a cause you believe in. You can even practice generosity by being more loving or patient with yourself.

Do this for each character trait and continue to work on making those traits part of your core character. This will help you develop the character you admire in others.

Be Uncompromising

Being uncompromising about your character means you don’t put your core values aside depending on the situation you’re in. If you’re generous and kind in public, you’re generous and kind behind closed doors, too. If you value loyalty and fidelity, then you’ll interact with others the same no matter whether your spouse is by your side or not. True character upholds you with Christ and through the people you spend time with and the people you lead. It’s something no one can take away from you. Do you have true character?