For my father, character was very important. Having moral strength and the ability to stand for the right were signs of character, and he praised people who cared about honor, their good name, and their promises. They were people we could trust, and their word meant … something because we could count on them to do what they said they would.


Father always supported us in church going and went with us when his job allowed, but he also felt we owed our best efforts to country, school, and home. He thought that we should be reliable people with character and trustworthiness in all that we did.

I can clearly remember how he urged me to do my best work at school and to do more than required when possible. He saw virtue in hard work and maintaining a standard of excellence. He required respect for teachers and those in authority and expected honesty and virtue in our actions. I can remember his saying that “it would be better to fail than to cheat in school work.” He also expected good grades and full effort on homework.


In school and other organizations, he liked to see us stay out of the “politics” that caused friction or divided people from one another. He understood the need for competition and achievement, but he felt that we did our best when we tried to improve our own record rather than out-do others.


Some readers may be smiling at what seem to be such old-fashioned virtues, but strong character that allows each of us to be our best even when no one is looking is one of the strengths of character taught in homes and schools for generations.


Paul also praised the perseverance in Christian living that produced character and hope…and ultimately joy and peace in life:


“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1-5 NIV


While we do not completely “earn” our place on earth or in Heaven, pressing on toward the high calling in Christ Jesus shows the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the blessing of God in our living.


Mary-Ellen Grisham is a Christian writer living in Godfrey, Illinois, with her family. She is the Editor of Eternal Ink, a Christian ezine newsletter, and the author of a new book Grace Notes. She can be reached at