“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure–the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation.” This was a recent daily inspirational quote I posted on my social media channels. This slight paraphrase of something Robert McKee wrote is very evident right now in my neck of the woods. We residents of southwest Florida are 24-48 hours away from an attack by a large mad woman named Irma. She’s one of the most aggressive hurricanes ever birthed in the Atlantic. Only time will tell her legacy.

So we are in the final preparation stages: Hurricane shutters installed, gas tanks filled, outdoor furniture brought in, water stored, food secured and evacuation plans in place or already executed. But here’s the deal. Sandwiched in between the weather reporters and their Class A moving graphics, is a story of a compassionate and generous shopper at Home Depot who gave the last generator out of his own cart to the woman in line behind him who needs one for her father’s oxygen machine. There are stories of off-duty Cape Coral Police officers installing shutters for the elderly. Neighbors helping neighbors. Churches blessing their communities. People at their best.

But, I listen to my police radio (issued to me as a chaplain for our department) and I hear the call to Sam’s Club to quell a fight of 10 people over a newly arrived shipment of water. Another friend tells me of his friend who picked up the last case of water at Lowe’s only to have someone try to pull it out of his arms. When he held on, he was met with a fist in the face. Other news reports tell of $3-4 cases of water being sold for $39. People at their worst.

Here’s another recent post I placed on social media, “What is down in the well, will come up in the bucket.”  These kind of crisis events will reveal what is deep inside of us. This shouldn’t surprise us. An amazing teacher, prophet, rabbi and Savior said it this way: “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” ~Jesus (Luke 6:43-45).

Transformation happens from the inside out. God is in the heart transformation business. You can’t give away what you don’t have on the inside. Start with asking God’s love and presence to fill you. And then, there are other forces that shape our character. Michael Hyatt talks about three of them:

  • The Input We Consume—books, blogs, TV, music, social media, etc.
  • The Relationships we Pursue—Jim Rohn says, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Positive, negative, big-picture thinkers, problem solvers, critics, successful, etc.
  • The Habits We Acquire—The consistent ways we think, speak and act in different situations. What we become known for. Our brand. Late, organized, disorganized, tense, relaxed, gratitude, or grumbling.

What gets squeezed out of you when the pressure is on? What do others see? The best or the worst of humanity? If it is the best, rejoice in the character you’ve allowed God to develop in you. If it is the worst of humankind, it’s never too late to ask God for a heart transformation and begin to change the forces that shape your character. You can’t change the past, but all of us have the power to change the future.  As Steve Maraboli said, “Don’t let your history interfere with your destiny.”

 

QUESTION: When you do honest self-inventory, are you satisfied with what gets squeezed out of you under pressure? Would love to have you share your thoughts in the comment section.

4 responses to The Best and The Worst

  1. Al C on September 12, 2017 at 10:18 AM Reply

    Last Thurs, seeing the intensity (3 to 4) & projected path of Irma (thru Cape Coral), April & I had anticipated having nothing left standing at 2310 SE 11th Ave. It’s an interesting process over the last few days to go from worry and concern, then resignation and release (it’s God’s property anyway, so He can take it back if he wants), then peace about the outcome, then hope and finally grateful surprise and praise. But also thru this God allowed us to understand a little more of the pain of others who lost houses and far more than houses. I’m sure that helping in practical ways and sharing God’s love with others who had those losses will open many doors.

    Just to make sure we got the message, we were in Oregon for most of last week – very close to major forest fires – so we smelled the smoke for a week and heard about losses other were having (houses lost, schools closed, interstate closed). TV coverage was forest fires, hurricane Harvey news, and hurricane Irma. And to add to it, one of our son-in-laws had a bad accident / injury while working on his house, which will take significant time to recover from.

    Our daughter also appreciated that God must listen to prayers after seeing Cape Coral’s outcome. We and friends in Illinois were praying with you last week about God sparing the Cape. Some of them had spent time in the area recently – so could identify a little more then just watching something on TV.

  2. senait on September 9, 2017 at 11:45 AM Reply

    Dear Dennis, I had no clue you lived in Florida, my familys are in Fort Lauderdale the dad is a Dr, serving at the moment , she wants to stay home with the boys, we are very worried, I hope you are out or went to the shelter .
    What you wrote is perfect and true, I hope people understand and believe in God and his words turn away their heart form evil as you said it’s never late , please post such angelic messages it will impact many. God bless you and keep you safe with your family.

  3. Jean on September 8, 2017 at 3:47 PM Reply

    Powerful blog today!! Thank you for giving us something to think about.

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