“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.