It’s important to develop a definition of a disciplined person) at each level of disciplemaking. This involves identifying the character qualities and competencies that a disciple needs to develop at each level.
A character quality is developed as we choose to obey a command of Christ habitually despite the difficulties, opposition or circumstances. Long-term habits (good or bad) shape our character.
Character development is a fundamental change in a person’s moral constitution. It involves seeing people who are feeling-oriented become obedience-oriented.
- Don’t underestimate the challenge of developing a person’s character; it’s a painful process.
- Paul wrote, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,” Galatians 4:19.
- Although it may be a painful process, it’s not an impossible task. We can take hope in the fact that the Bible wasn’t just given to us for information but for transformation (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Rick Warren has written in his book The Purpose Driven Church:
- Christlike character is the ultimate goal. To settle for anything less is to miss the point of spiritual growth. We are to … “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:13).
- Developing the character of Christ is life’s most important task because it is the only thing we’ll take with us into eternity. Jesus made it quite clear in his Sermon on the Mount that eternal rewards in heaven would be based on the character we develop and demonstrate here on earth.
- This means the objective of all our teaching must be to change lives, NOT merely provide information.
- Character is never built in a classroom; it is built in the circumstances of life. The classroom Bible study is simply the place to identify character qualities and learn how character is developed. When we understand how God uses circumstances to develop character, we can respond correctly when God places us in character-building situations. Character development always involves a choice. When we make the right choice, our character grows more like Christ.
Choices start with thoughts – “Sow a thought and reap an act. Sow an act and reap a habit. Sow a habit and reap a character. Sow a character and reap a destiny.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
THOUGHT + ACT + HABIT = CHARACTER
- What is character? It is the dynamic orientation toward good or bad.
- Character is developed through repeated choices that become habits.
- How do you build character? Building character involves the transformation of the will through repeated choices that become habits that are allowed to shape ones thinking and feelings.
Church consultant Bob Gilliam suggests the following formula can create a sufficient enough commitment in a person’s life that wants to develop life skills (character) or ministry skills (competence).
PRIORITY + DISCIPLINE = COMMITMENT
Discipline is made up of two important dynamics – Relationship and Accountability. If we want to be committed to a habit that will ultimately shape our character then we must have a close relationship with someone that we invite to hold us accountable.
[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]