Take 30 seconds. Close your eyes. Think of the leader who has had the most impact on your life. Stop. Do not read on until you’ve identified someone.

Take another 30 seconds. Close your eyes. Answer this question. Was that person’s impact on your life due to what they did or who they are or were? Stop. Do not read on until you’ve answered the question.

Merriam-Webster defines character as: “attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual; mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person.”

But I prefer the simple definition of character from English Language Learners: “the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves.”

To be or to do?

That is the fundamental question of what makes an effective leader. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey noted that most success literature today focuses on techniques as the key to success, but for the first 150 years of our nation, most writings focused on a person’s character as the key to success.

Matt Perman in What’s Best Next puts character in our context today when he says, “The fundamental way to…make good decisions in an age of unlimited options—is to be a person of character.”

And he concludes by saying, “The greatest success is to be a person of character—someone who walks with God, in Christ, and seeks to live this out every day by doing justice and loving mercy (Micah 6:8).”

Toby Mac sings, “The first thing to prosper should be inside of me.” In his song Lose My Soul, he is referring to the personal character that King David talks about in Psalm 1. David teaches us that prosperous leadership springs from a flourishing of one’s character.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)

And finally, the Apostle Paul also reminds us to prioritize our character when he says, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” (Phil 1:27)

To be or to do? Most of us have To Do lists. I love To Do lists! (I’ve even added items to my list that I’ve already accomplished just for the satisfaction of checking them off the list!) But have you ever considered creating a To Be list? What would you include on that list? For me, most of those items involve a lot of NOT doing, like fasting, solitude, silence and listening prayer.

What might happen TODAY—and every day—if you start your day focused on one item on your new To Be list before plunging into your To Do list?

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Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Executive Pastor at West Shore Free Church
Jesus captured Tim's heart at age 17 through the Father’s faithful love and the Spirit's relentless pursuit. Since then, God has opened many doors of rewarding ministry through short-term mission trips and ministry to children, students and men. Tim loves travel, adventure and the outdoors—especially hiking, camping and anything on the water. Tim and Amy are celebrating over 25 years of marriage and are currently launching their four girls into adult life. They have been actively involved at West Shore Free Church since 2002 and Tim has been on staff since 2014.

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