InPursuit

Harvesting A Godly Character {Book Club Thursday}

Welcome to Book Club Thursdays!

Own Your Life Book ClubWe’re reading through Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love (aff. link). For your convenience, all the posts in the series are archived {here}. So if you missed any,  feel free to head on over and catch up. Or, to make life even easier,  subscribe to our Book Club Thursdays newsletter and receive all book club posts directly to your email!

Chapter 12: Harvesting A Godly Character {Owning Your Integrity}

I was that girl. The one who got pregnant her senior year of High School. I know what it’s like to be 18 and give birth to a son out-of-wedlock. Though God graciously blessed me with my son, and though I wouldn’t give him up for anything in the world, I know what it’s like to walk through life with the consequences of my poor decisions.

By 21 I was a single mom with so many bad habits it would be a miracle if I managed to raise a child half-well at all. April 2003 changed me. I gave my life to the Lord and therein began a lifelong journey towards harvesting a godly character and owning my integrity. And let me just say, for this girl here, who was an emotional mess, that. was. hard.

Like an infant, learning to eat and walk and talk, so was I. I fumbled through it. I did it all wrong actually. But I loved God and quitting wasn’t an option. Going back to where I came from was out of the question. I desperately wanted guidance. I desperately wanted to learn and grow. I desperately wanted to not do or say the things I did. I desperately wanted to be an authentic Christ-follower. I wanted my internal dialogue and the actions behind closed doors to show character and integrity.

And so the journey began. It began with learning to manage my home. Crazy right? You wouldn’t think harvesting your character would begin with washing a dirty dish. But for me, that’s where it all started. I looked at the life I was living and I looked at the life I wanted to live. Though I didn’t know how to get from here to there, I trusted God to lead me. I trusted God to teach me. I was no longer satisfied with presenting an image before others. I wanted to be a woman of my word, a woman of integrity and character, a woman of substance. I’m a work in progress, for sure!

I absolutely loved this chapter. Sally’s wisdom inspires me to continue this lifelong journey towards harvesting a godly character. She shares:

“[character is] the internal attributes that determine a person’s external integrity and work ethic. Character provides the foundation of spiritual and moral strength that rules life decisions, commitments, and faithfulness. Owning your character is essential to making wise decisions, to taking responsibility for your actions and behavior, and to living a faithful life through every season. 

Unless we own the fact that the choices and actions we make in life will indeed have important consequences, we will make flippant, easy decisions that kill the potential  of our becoming strong and fit leaders in our homes and communities. 

In The Garden & Seeds of Promise

Here’s the thing. Harvesting a godly character won’t just happen overnight. It takes intentionality. It takes getting up each day and choosing to plant seeds of faith in all you say and do. It takes tilling the soil of your heart and life and tending your garden.

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God’s sown an incredible amount of potential into our lives, if we’re not careful to tend our garden, life–with all it’s troubles and difficulties– will choke that seed at its root before it even has a chance to bear fruit. I know things are tough. Plant anyway. You have the Master Gardener at your side. He leads and instructs and teaches us how to live a life that will bear much good fruit. There’s so much promise in your faithful seeds.

Wisdom: Developing a Strong Moral Character

The beginning of all wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). It’s essential we begin there. What does God say a life of wisdom and success looks like? He instructs us to build our houses on the solid rock rather than on the ever-shifting sand. What does that look like?

Through God’s word and through your life experiences, you have the capacity to apply God’s truth and wisdom to your life. You have the authority to bring order to your life with every decision you make. It will require searching out the treasury of God’s wisdom and then making a choice to apply what you’ve learned.

Yeah, that’s the difficult part. The application part.

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Sowing righteousness will reap a harvest of righteousness. “We obey God’s commands in order to build our lives on foundations that will stand and not fail us in the storms of life. We live with virtue so that others can look to us as beacons that will show them the love and redemption of God. Our virtue should help in our outreach and draw others to us, not send them away.”

Our culture doesn’t help us with this. Relativism has taken precedence and everyone feels they have a right to create their own ideas of what virtue and truth look like. Yet the Bible clearly tells us all wisdom comes from God. We cannot live a life of moral integrity if we don’t look to Him for what that should look like.

Choices Have Consequences

You don’t have to remind me that choices have consequences. It’s been a lifelong lesson for me. As a mom of a soon-to-be 16-year-old, I know firsthand how bad decisions change the course of our lives. On the same note, as a Christ-follower, I also know how the right decisions transform the way that course looks.

Our choices have consequences. Period.

I’m so grateful for God’s love, grace, and mercy poured over my every foolish decision the moment I made the U-Turn. When we choose to keep working through our fumbling steps and when we keep choosing righteousness even when we fall so short, God takes our effort, covers it in His amazing grace, and weaves a beautiful tapestry out of it!

For those of us who’ve been experts at foolish decisions, this brings hope. When and if we choose righteousness and wisdom, He tends our garden and produces what we’re unable to produce in our own effort.

Again, our choices have consequences. One cannot sow foolishness and reap a life of beauty and integrity. It’s just not the way it works.

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Planting Seeds of Wisdom

So go ahead, plant seeds of wisdom. Do not tire in doing good. In due season, if you don’t tire, you’ll reap a beautiful harvest (Galatians 6:9). So where can we start? Sally takes us right to Scripture… (love that!)

  • Tell the truth. (Exodus 20:16)
  • Work diligently–don’t be lazy! (Proverbs 10:4)
  • Do what you say you will do. Be reliable–the kind of person others can depend on to keep her word. (Deuteronomy 7:9, Proverbs 10:9)
  • Serve others. (Mark 10:45, Galatians 5:13)
  • Give generously, without expecting anything in return. (Proverbs 22:9)
  • Forgive those who have wronged you. (Matthew 6:14)
  • Guard and control your tongue. (Proverbs 13:3, Proverbs 15:1)
  • Choose to be a peacemaker. (Romans 12:18)
  • Endure hardship with a humble spirit, as it will train you to be a faithful warrior in the battle for righteousness and will lead people to Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3)
  • Persevere under trial and wait patiently on God to help you. (James 1:12)
  • Don’t gossip! (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Soul shaping is hard work. It begins with one step, one choice, one decision in the right direction.

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It requires shutting out the noise around you and leaning into God’s truth.

Ya’ll, I can’t even hit everything I want to hit in this chapter. If you haven’t already done so, get yourself a copy of this book. Slowly read through this chapter. Determine what kind of life you want to live, and what kind of fruit you want to reap. Then, determine in advance the kinds of seeds you will plant.

So, how has sowing and planting seeds of righteousness looked in your life?  Are you owning your character and integrity? Let’s talk about it (feel free to do so in the comments section, on our Facebook page, or privately).

Then meet me here next week when we’ll continue Owning Our Lives by Loving Well and Creating a Lasting Legacy. 

*unless otherwise noted, all quotes are by Sally Clarkson.

Thoughts To Ponder

1.) Sally says that soul shaping is hard work. Why do you think that is?

2.) Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 encourages us to support one another through good and difficult times. Do you have women in your life whom you can lean on in hardship? Can you think of any women you might mentor? How can you instruct them to live more wisely?

3.) What are some character attributes you aspire to strengthen? What are some practical ways of working toward your goal?

Discussion Questions graciously provided by Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life Team
 
 
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© 2016 Darlene Collazo | {In Pursuit} My Quest

Comments

  1. Wow, there is so much meat here Darlene. I need to read this more than once. At first thought, I see myself in your words and struggles. I was not a young unwed mother, but I COULD HAVE BEEN. And I know the consequences of poor choices all too well, and still live in them. But thankfully in my own “U-turn”, I’m learning to live into Godly character and dignity, but the going isn’t easy or fast or smooth. It’s a process, for sure. I want to be stronger in empathy towards other sisters. I find my pride takes over in so many areas that I want to grow in. And I am so thankful for women God has put in my life that are drawing me to Him and showing me Godly character lived out, and you are one of those women. <3

    • Meredith, there’s just not enough space for me to fit in all the nuggets of wisdom pulled from this book. I’m so glad I decided to take it one chapter per week. Otherwise, I would have rushed through some of the most beautiful, God-filled truths. This week’s chapter specifically was such a treasure to me. Especially coming from someone like Sally, with so much experience. Her life gives testimony and I’m reminded that harvesting takes effort, hard work, dedication, and perseverance. I want to be that woman who lives to the capacity God’s deposited in me!

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