In the christian sacred scriptures we are told that God preserves an accurate picture of our identities through names (Philippians 4:3; Revelations 3:5), names in the bible are carriers of Character, personality and individuality(Exodus 34:5,6). This suggests that as Dr Bacchiocchi observes in one of his articles (What We Will Be Like in Heaven), We are now forming distinct personalities and characters that will be ours throughout eternity. This why EG White makes the assertion in Christ Object Lessons:
“A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next”.
Our obsession with the resume over the eulogy is seen by how we assess people we meet, no one makes character assessments and employs this knowledge base as their driving key to identifying another person.
It means then from birth up to your death bed, the only thing worth building at all cost is your character. The question needs to be asked then is, why has our society mutated to be overly obsessed over the mundane rather than substantive character formation. David brook in his book: “The road to character”categorizes this as an obsession of “resume virtues” over “eulogy virtues” The former focuses on external success and the latter focuses on deeper virtues, the things we talk about at your funeral. Brook further observes that: “We live in a culture that encourages us to think about how to be wealthy and successful, but leaves us inarticulate about how to cultivate the deepest inner life” What he means is that it leaves us inarticulate about to cultivate noble characters, indeed like myself some will struggle to list ten character virtues about themselves or even conceptualize them. Brook notes that “We have clever strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop profound characters”, I am yet to see a 3 year plan on how to be honest and faithful.
Our obsession with the resume over the eulogy is seen by how we assess people we meet, no one makes character assessments and employs this knowledge base as their driving key to identifying another person. Seldom will you hear: “that loving and self sacrificing guy” but it is, “that guy who drives a range”. One of my dear Sisters gave her prospective husband a tough time when he was proposing by throwing at him unexpectedly a character question: “What character strengths and weaknesses do you have that will help me become a better person” if this would be the norm then people would have an inclination to introduce themselves on the basis of who they are and not what they have: “Hi I am Sam and I am polite, honest and generous”. At the end, we interact with people not their things.
When God introduced himself to Moses, he never told him of the throne and angels he had, but made his “eulogy virtues” audible: “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6). When Jesus came to earth he muted his “resume virtues” (His Majesty) and amplified his “eulogy virtues” (comforter and Saviour). if you use the resume world view it does not make sense to leave 99 sheep just so that you can find the one that is lost, that is a eulogy worldview and this why we are so attracted to Him. This is the reason the Jews missed out on His messiahship, they were looking at the resume:
“His glory veiled, that the majesty of His outward form might not become an object of attraction….Only the beauty of Heavenly truth must draw those who would follow him…The character of the Messiah had long been foretold..” (Desire of Ages, p431).
We are so poor on character we can not even make character statements about our friends or partners, such as “I know he or she can never cheat on me”. The kind of Character statement that God made about Job, or on a different spin that Christ made about Peter.
On a secular spin this is the reason why the Rhodes statue had to fall, no matter how great his resume virtues were as his business skills attest but he lacked greatly on the eulogy side as he exploited, cheated and Bribed to attain his wealth Martin Meredith narrates in his magnum opus: “Diamonds, Gold and War”. The moment we celebrate in public people who attain resume virtues by compromising eulogy virtues then we send a very dangerous message to the next generation. Even to some sacrifice their “eulogy virtues” for the “resume”, we use are beauty and sex to fee our expensive lifestyles or bribe without blinking to cash in the tender. We celebrate Mandela because of that admirable virtue to forgive, even if you argue geopolitics he really did not have to. We celebrate Mother Teressa because of the capacity to sacrifice and care for people on the sheer basis of their humanity. This year in my feeble energy I am in pursuit of Character, Lord help me.