A. W. Tozer described character as “the excellence of moral beings… naturally paramount. As the excellence of steel is strength and the excellence of art is beauty, so the excellence of mankind is moral character.” Booker T. Washington said “character is power”. Power to do what? Power to influence people. John Maxwell wrote a book called the 21 Indispensable qualities of leadership. The first quality on the list is character. Leadership is influence and people are best influenced through modeling, not merely by what a person says. Character is the substance of a leader’s modeling. It is what he must model to succeed in effectively leading. Jesus exemplified this to his disciples. He washed their feet to model servant leadership to them. (John 13). He modeled for them that those who are leaders must live as servants. He didn’t merely teach the principle of servant leadership to them, he modeled it. Character is one of those things that are only displayed in action. People see how a leader acts or speaks and they can tell their character.
Character and integrity go together. A person has integrity when his thoughts, words, and actions are completely aligned. Jesus spoke his harshest words against the Pharisees and the scribes for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23). People are not inspired by a misalignment of between what a leader says and what he does. A leader’s strong belief that hell exists is seen and grasped by his people not by what he does preaching a sermon, but how that drives him toward evangelism and seeking to win the lost. That is integrity and character. As James said, faith without works is really dead.
I’ve attended about six to seven different Churches in the past. Among the pastors I sat under, there were some who lived out the word of God with passion, truth, and purity which inspired people to live missions minded lives like he did. He not only showed that it was possible but that it was necessary and he lived like that. That inspired people to live for Christ. Many went into mission fields; others simplified their lives to put Christ first. Then I’ve been under pastors who shout their sermons at the top of their lungs and do a little shaking to go with it but don’t model what they preach. Their sermons seem to enter one ear of their congregation and go out through the other and people are not changed. A leader who lives a life of evangelizing everywhere he goes and putting soul winning, prayer for souls and global missions at the top of his priority in life inspires those following to do the same. I believe that is the only way. It is how Christ did it.
Is character only important for leaders? No! In fact every christian is a leader. As long as you have Christ in you, you have a sphere you are called to serve and lead in. The question we all have to ask ourselves is are we leading well? Are you modeling a character that resembles Christ?
To be successful in personal evangelism, you have to be authentic and growing in your character and maturity. People will see that and will trust the message that you share.