People with talent make it into the limelight and become known in their fields. However, the ones who do not have strong character rarely finish well. This is because people cannot rise beyond the limits of their character.
Good character will prevent talented people from taking shortcuts. Some brilliant university dons have been implicated in plagiarism and academic fraud. They would have succeeded without dishonesty but because of bad character they fell into the temptation of various types of fraud. Dishonest computer experts have got into cybercrimes. Banks are suffering losses of depositors’ funds through Internet fraud.
John Luther said, “Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece, by thought, choice, courage and determination.”
Bad character has been the cause of failure for talented people who would have otherwise succeeded. You may know of some first class brains in the university who could not make it outside. They started well but somewhere, somehow some bad character trait brought their brilliant career to an abrupt end.
I had a schoolmate who was talented. He was an all-rounder because he was excellent in both arts and science subjects. But he was stubborn, disobedient and arrogant. He flouted school rules, disobeyed the school prefects and even the teachers. He absented himself from classes and went out of the campus without permission. Despite all these, he was on top of the class.
Ultimately, he was dismissed in his fourth year for gross indiscipline. The Principal gave him such a bad testimonial that no other school was willing to admit him. His education ended at that level. About ten years ago, I accidentally met him as a petty trader at Onitsha Main Market. He recognised me with some difficulty and called my name. From a brief chat with him, I learnt that he divorced his wife and disowned his only son. At that age (about 68 years) he was living alone in a one-room apartment in a low-class area of the town.
I used to know another talented person in the university. He studied Physics and made a first class and completed his PhD in a record time. Unfortunately, his weak character started manifesting soon after he became a professor and his appointment was terminated. Since then, he has been finding it difficult to relate with people.
- L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” It is what will protect you as you climb the ladder of success. It is what you exhibit when nobody is watching you. That is why it is wise to give more time to character building than wealth building. Your wealth will have foul smell as soon you exhibit bad character. You lose your respect and honour when people know your true self.
Arthur Friedman said, “Men of genius are admired. Men of wealth are envied. Men of power are feared, but only men of character are trusted.” A distrusted character has an unshakable aura of untrustworthiness.
The value of character is extolled by a German proverb which says, “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost, when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
Character is a major consideration in a workplace. Employers can keep workers with average ability but never very competent but fraudulent staff. I believe God uses people more based on their character than their talents. That is why Jesus is most of time concerned with the motive for our deeds.
God can use someone with good character and little talent than a man with lots of talent and little character. In the parable of the talents as narrated in Mathew 25: 14-30, the master rebuked the servant who was given one talent because of his wickedness (character). He addressed him as wicked and slothful servant. The motive for and our attitude to whatever we do is important.
I love to quote Colossians 3:23 which says, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” If our work is not done heartily, it is not regarded by God, however beautiful it may be. If we give a fat cheque to the church, not cheerfully but grudgingly, it is useless in God’s sight.
Your talent is given to you by God but He expects you to build your character to use the talent properly.