What shapes our character? How can you grow your character? And what does character look like in our modern world? Charles Swindoll addresses these and other questions in THE STRENGTH OF CHARACTER: 7 Essential Traits of a Remarkable Life. This well-designed hardback gift book looks at the strength of courage, self-control, honesty, determination, unselfishness, hope and sincerity --- all qualities God wants to see developed in each of us.
Swindoll argues that even if you feel unqualified, untrained or unworthy, God wants to do mighty work in and through you. God is still looking for men and women who believe in Him and are willing to become a tool in His hands. Swindoll writes that the overarching will of God is not concerned with where you live or what you do. Rather, God is concerned about you becoming like Christ. That is His ultimate focus.
Throughout the book, Swindoll describes many of the greats of history to illustrate his ideas. He reminds readers of such heroes as Luther, who changed religious history; Michaelangelo, who painted regardless of verbal harassment; and Perlman, who was admitted to the Julliard School of Music in a leg brace and a wheelchair --- an unlikely violin student. Yet it's through adversity that character grows and we become stronger.
In some of the book's most memorable moments, Swindoll shares lessons from his personal life. For instance, he describes how the three-second pause has impacted his life. Whatever type of temptation you're facing, Swindoll says that a three-second pause can make all the difference. When he feels an impulse toward a particular response or behavior, he waits three seconds before taking any action. During those precious moments, he assesses what the consequences of his actions might be. Though some impulses are good, he says that over the years those few seconds have kept him out of a lot of hot water. They've also helped establish self-control in his life and character.
Swindoll believes that character is not developed overnight but through patient discipline. He notes that while many books promise quick fixes, the truth is that those who succeed are those who "hang tough over the long haul." These are the investments that pay the largest dividends and bring the greatest joy.
Each section of the book contains short reading portions, making it an ideal on-the-go devotional. The excerpts are drawn from some of Swindoll's best work, including LAUGH AGAIN, DAVID: A Man of Passion & Destiny, GETTING THROUGH THE TOUGH STUFF and SO, YOU WANT TO BE LIKE CHRIST? Each reading is also accompanied by a piece of artwork --- most of which feature the outdoors or something from nature. Quotes and scriptures are sprinkled throughout the text.
Overall, THE STRENGTH OF CHARACTER is a good gift book for fans of Charles Swindoll or those looking for a quick devotional book.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on April 10, 2007