Godly Character, A Legacy of HonorJune 10, 2016
A man is only as good as his character. Author and pastor, Crawford Loritts, talks about the qualities that make up a man's character: personal habits, leadership in the home, and spiritual health.
A man is only as good as his character. Author and pastor, Crawford Loritts, talks about the qualities that make up a man's character: personal habits, leadership in the home, and spiritual health.
Godly Character, A Legacy of Honor
Bob: If you’re a person of godly character, that has an impact on everyone around you. Dr. Crawford Loritts says it sets the temperature of your home.
Crawford: A man of character is in charge of the environment and atmosphere in his home; and no child that sleeps under your roof and eats the food that you buy has a right to disrupt the environment and the atmosphere in that home.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 10th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What exactly does godly character look like in a man’s life? Dr. Crawford Loritts gives us a picture today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.
You stop and think about where character comes from in a person’s life. It is less from what we’re taught, and it’s much more from what we catch as we grow up, don’t you think?
Dennis: Yes, I think it’s both, Bob. I think we have to be taught a moral center--a spiritual center--for life; that’s discipleship. But, then, we need to catch it--the real disease--in an infectious way, from another man or a group of men.
Bob: We’ve got to see it. We’ve got to see what character lived out looks like in the lives of people around us to really have it affect us, because I’m thinking about you growing up with the dad you grew up with. A lot of what your character is is what you saw him do, right?
Dennis: My dad was a very soft-spoken man. He didn’t have to use many words. [Laughter] He got it done with a few; with a few words. He was a kind man, though. I wouldn’t call him stern in terms of tough or rugged or negative.
But when he said something, you believed him, because that was his character. It’s amazing, because my dad could have been a victim. His dad deserted him when he was a boy. He grew up in the church, and there were men who built into his life. Today we’re going to hear from a man who is one of the men in my life. He’s a friend, but not just a peer. He’s also somebody who speaks truth into my life as well: Dr. Crawford Loritts.
Crawford and Karen are great friends. They’ve been married since 1971; they have four adult children and ten grandchildren. He is one great country preacher! [Laughter] And a big city preacher, too, because he preaches in Roswell, Georgia in North Atlanta at Fellowship Bible Church. He’s just a great friend, and a truth speaker. He’s somebody like you talked about, Bob, who both speaks the truth into your life, but also models it and gives you a chance to catch that disease.
Bob: Well, he caught it from the dad he had, who was a dad of character as we’ll hear him explain today. Crawford is speaking to a group of men here at an event where you were speaking, along with Robert Lewis and James MacDonald. It was all about manhood, and Crawford was talking about where he learned character.
Crawford: Let me tell you a couple of stories that were benchmarks in my life. When I was in fifth grade, I brought home a report card that wasn’t so good. I had always done well in school; you know, academically. But some of you guys are old enough to remember the old report cards that had all the academic side on one side, and they had all the conduct and character side on the other side. [Laughter]
And I remember that I had all “A”s on one side, and I had all these red “U”s (unsatisfactory) on the other side.
Now, my dad, you know, he didn’t get on my case too much about stuff in school, because I did well, but I’ll never forget this one report card that I brought home. I was in the fifth grade. My mother was beside herself. I had all “A”s, but at the dinner table, my dad—she said to my father, “Now, I want you to look at this report card.” My sisters got up, and I got ready to get up. She said, “No, you don’t go anywhere.” [Laughter]
My dad read my report card and then, on the back of the report card, Mrs. Codner, my fifth grade teacher, had written this line: “Crawford is making great progress in becoming the class clown.” [Laughter]
That wasn’t good. That wasn’t good. That wasn’t good. And my father said to me—you know what he said to me? He used to have this line, and he looked at me and he said, “Oh, oh, oh! I see what this is. You just want to act the monkey.”
“And I know how to make monkeys dance.” [Laughter] Now, that very evening, I gave up my desire of becoming the class clown. I think what my father was really saying to me—and I didn’t appreciate it until years later—but what he was really saying to me was, “Look, look, look! Wait, wait. What used to be cute when you were in the first grade, second grade, or third grade, is not cute anymore. It’s not funny. You may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but you know how to act. This will stop.”
He had a vision of character that my behavior was inconsistent with. When I was 12 years old—I’m ashamed to say this—I stole some chains. It’s a long story. In the mercy of God, I got caught. The police came to our apartment. It was the only other time I saw my dad cry besides the death of some of his siblings.
I’ll never forget that, as a tear trickled down his cheek, he said, “Boy, you’ve hurt my heart.” But he did some other things that made it very memorable for me never to do that again. [Laughter]
Those are benchmark things. By the way, when you see this in your own children—when you see character gaps—and you see things that are wandering “off the plantation,” so to speak, and they’re doing stuff that’s getting outside of the property, don’t give them a pass; don’t wink at it. Pull them back in.
Character is intentional; and all you have, once again, is who you are--who you really, really are. Both of those cases of discipline were appropriately severe; not abusive, but appropriately severe and very, very memorable.
Philips Brooks, the famed 19th Century preacher, said, “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” “It is made in the small ones.” It is made in correcting the lie. It is made when you make them show up. It is made when you make them keep a promise. It is made when you keep your promises. It is made when you make the little right choices. It is made when your family becomes a priority.
It is the little choices—those little things—over time, that weave the tapestry of a man who’s full of integrity and godly character. Now, this vision [of being] “above reproach”—back to 1 Timothy, Chapter 3—is outlined by a list of character qualities. I wrestled with this in my preparation, because I don’t want to give a grocery list.
I don’t want to go down through all of this list, but I do think that there is something here for us to focus on. I want to organize this list into three parts, because I really believe the Apostle Paul was telling folks, “Look, look, Timothy! Here are the kinds of people you need to look for. Here are the kind of men that you need to look for.”
He said that this character needs to be reflected and nurtured in these three big, primary areas. Number one, in terms of personal habits; number two, in terms of leadership in the home; and, number three, in terms of spiritual health.
First of all, personal habits. I want to read this again, at the expense of boring you, though; I am going to go briefly through each one of these character traits. Personal habits--first of all, what we should be: “the husband of one wife”; “husband of one wife.” I think this is implying more than the statement that’s being made.
“Husband of one wife.” He is saying that a man should be a one-woman man; a one-woman man. The issue here is sexual faithfulness and devoted to your wife. Pornography is adultery. Allowing another woman to get to another place in your heart, emotionally, that should only belong to your wife, is adultery. We need men who live by their vows, and behave in such a way.
We need men who don’t send out messages and flirt with other women. We need men who behave in such a way that everybody knows, “Nobody’s going to get this close to me except Karen.” So, when he says, “the husband of one wife,” he’s not just saying, “Yes, I’m married.” It’s, “No, no! In every way—in every way—we’re one-woman men.”
We should be “sober minded.” What is he saying there? Well, we need to be appropriately serious. I said appropriately serious. He’s not saying not to have fun, but he’s really talking about not given to foolish behavior. There are some things that a man shouldn’t do anymore. One of the great problems that we have today is that we’ve got these fifty year-old teenagers. Some of this stuff is not age-appropriate.
He’s saying, “Look, you need to be sober-minded.” You need to be appropriately serious, understanding, and discerning about the important issues in life. “What are the things I shouldn’t be laughing at? What are the things that I shouldn’t be making fun about? What are the weighty things? What’s the silliness that I need to get rid of?”
Thirdly, he says, “self-control.”
This has two implications. One, stable and not driven by impulses; stable and not driven by impulses; the ability to be objective. That’s what James is talking about, really, is the ability to be objective; not driven by my feelings. I’m not a drama queen in my own household. There is this stability. I’m not driven by my impulses, and I appreciate and maintain proper emotional boundaries. Sometimes it’s not right for you to cry. I know that’s not PC, what I just said.
While everybody else is losing it, there are times in which, as a man, you’ve got to be the portrait of emotional stability in order to lead your family to where they need to be so they won’t cave in to the emotions of the moment. He’s talking about leadership in the church, and he says, there are times in which you’ve got to take an emotional hit and keep moving.
The term, “respectable”--that has to do with behavior that is desirable and worth emulating. That’s what it means to be respectable. It’s not that you’re trying to impress people; it’s not that you’re trying to pretend to be something that you’re not, but you live in such a way and carry yourself in such a way that people will want to be like you.
That’s what it means to be respectable; not people-pleasing--but there are values; there are things in your life that are important, and you want to demonstrate those important things.
The word “hospitable” literally means loving the stranger. That’s the idea of having compassion for others; loving people. Men should be filled with a love for those who are outside and for including them; that’s part of our character. Now, those habits—personal habits—are what we should be.
Then there’s a list of what we shouldn’t be: not a drunkard. I think, in a narrow sense, we think, “He’s talking about alcoholism.” Well, he is, and we say, “He’s talking about not being drunk,” and that’s true, too. But I think what he means by not being a drunkard is not being controlled by habits and addictions. I want to broaden this out. Some of us are addicted to golf; some of us have other addictions. Although he’s talking about alcohol specifically, I think he’s implying that we should not be controlled by anyone or anything other than the Holy Spirit.
“Not violent;” a man should not be abusive or intimidating. Any man that has to beat people up to demonstrate his leadership is not a man. He’s not a man!
Men control their temper. “Not violent;” not beating people up. “Not quarrelsome.” That means not looking for trouble and fighting over secondary issues. Discernment in proportion is a man’s best friend. You fall on your sword over the right things. One of the things we say around our church is this (with some of our leaders there): “You’ve got 24 targets, but only 12 bullets. You can’t shoot at everything.”
Paul is saying here, “Look, a man does not need to go around picking fights and arguing over secondary, inconsequential issues.” A man of character is a man of proportion and a man of discernment. He understands, “Now, this is worth fighting for.”
“Not a lover of money,” meaning not obsessed with or controlled by money. He realizes that God takes care of him.
He trusts God and he’s generous with his resources. Now, he’s a good steward of them, but he’s generous with them.
But there’s also leadership in the home. Verses 4 and 5 talk about this man maintaining order and direction of his household. For the sake of time, I’ll just summarize that. It doesn’t mean that your kids are all going to turn out; it doesn’t mean that you will not have any prodigals; it doesn’t mean that they won’t make bad decisions. But listen.
Listen! A man of character is in charge of the environment and atmosphere in his home; and no child—no child--that sleeps under your roof and eats the food that you buy has the right to disrupt the environment and the atmosphere in that home. That’s what he’s saying right here: “he takes charge of that environment.”
He’s not passive, and he provides the basis for broader leadership in the cause of Christ by how he raises his family, with a vision of them making a difference. That structure is there.
But then there’s also spiritual health, in verses 6 and 7. When he says, “not a novice; not a new believer,” he’s talking about the fact that he embraces the call to spiritual maturity. He understands that the greatest thing that he brings to the table is Jesus. He’s not ashamed to be identified with Him. He accepts this moral responsibility.
The only way that this stuff can happen, though, is through the power of God’s Spirit. I mean, you know, the problem with me reading through all of this stuff is that there can be a legalism that grips us, that says, “I’ve got to produce this.” No, we can’t do it! This is part of the fruit of the Spirit. So, when we yield ourselves to the power of God’s Spirit, and we say, “Lord Jesus, I can’t pull this off!”
“It’s impossible for me to do these things, but I know ‘it’s not by might, not by power, but by Your Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” [Audience Response] Then He produces the fruit of the Spirit in and through us. The way to be strong as a man is to be surrendered as a servant. Say, “Lord Jesus, I yield myself to you. Make me the man that you want me to be. You know my past; you know my problems; you know my frustrations; you know my dysfunction; you know my issues. I bring them to you. Spirit of the living God, control me.”
Father, in the name of Jesus, we ask of you that you’ll help us to be all that you’ve called us to be. Lord God, I pray that we will be men of character; men of strength; men who bring stability to our moment in history; men, oh God, who are not marked by the dysfunctions of the past, but marked by the power of the gospel and the power of the Lord Jesus and the hope of heaven and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Lord Jesus, do a work in our hearts and lives, we pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. [Audience Response]
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to Dr. Crawford Loritts speaking on godly character, taking us through 1 Timothy, chapter three, and the qualifications listed there for a man to be an elder in the church. I’ve always thought of those as kind of the qualifications if you wanted to be in the elite forces of the spiritual battle.
Dennis: A green beret.
Bob: Yes! The SEALS.
Dennis: A ranger.
Bob: This is the kind of stuff that’s got to be true about your life if you want to be in that kind of a place in the spiritual battlefield.
Dennis: And God wants to work this out in your life regardless of the background you came from. It’s why I really want to encourage men who are listening to us, Bob, to hear what Crawford is saying and to allow that to ignite a fire in your chest.
Decide to do something about it. Let me tell you something: our nation hangs in the balance around men behaving like real men; around godly men. More than ever, guys, what we’ve got to do is we have to reach down to the younger men on the lower steps of stepping up to manhood—to the boys; to the teenagers; to the younger men—and we’ve got to call them up and call them up to be a man or call them up to be a mentor to, ultimately, have a vision of being a patriarch.
But to do that, you’ve got to have a practical way of engaging them and imploring them and exhorting them. That’s why we created a ten-part video series that is very simple to lead. It’s a 30-minute video followed by 30-40 minutes of interaction within a small group of guys, talking to each other about things of courage that they’ve done and how they did them and why they did them; what their failures were and their successes.
It’s a safe place, Bob. I think men like Stepping Up groups because it creates a band of brothers who can be real about who they are, while at the same time having the dream and the vision Crawford was talking about in his message. I want to make sure you, as a man, don’t miss what he said: the real value of a man is found in who or what he surrenders to.
Dennis: Crawford said, “You have to be a surrendered servant of Jesus Christ if you want to be a real man.” What he’s saying is, if you miss Christ—if you miss yielding your will to his will-you’re going to miss life. You’re going to step off into a bunch of traps. And they’re out there for us!
Dennis: You need Christ in you and you need the Holy Spirit guiding you, like Crawford was talking about. I think you need to have a mission, and I think you ought to be a part of getting some guys together. Go through Stepping Up together and make an impact—an imprint—on their hearts and their lives.
Bob: When we were putting the Stepping Up video event together, we took your book and we created an event that a church can do, or that a men’s group can do, or a group of guys can just go off for a couple of days and go through this—fathers and sons, or a band of brothers going off and doing this themselves. We determined that one of the guys we wanted speaking into this was Crawford Loritts. . .
Bob: . . . along with Matt Chandler, and Tony Dungy, and you, and Voddie Baucham, Robert Lewis, and Stu Weber. I mean, it’s a great line-up of guys.
Bob: They paint a portrait of what godly masculinity is supposed to look like. We think summer’s a great time for men to get together and have a Stepping Up video event. If you’d like to get the event kit free, we will ship it to you free as long as you order at least ten study guides, to go through this with at least ten people.
So order the ten study guides and you get the video event kit free. It’s got the DVDs; it’s got a workbook; it’s got a copy of the Stepping Up hardback book that you’ve written. You can get more details on this special offer, that is good during the month of June, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY to find out more about the Stepping Up video event kit, ask any questions you’ve got, and you can order over the phone if you’d like as well.
Now, we’ve got some friends right here in Little Rock—in fact, they are not just right here in Little Rock; they are right here in our office at FamilyLife—who are celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary today: Wayne and Jeanie Smith. Wayne is an Event Planner for FamilyLife. Anniversaries matter! They’re a big deal. That’s why we’re taking time this year to just highlight some of the anniversaries from people whose lives have been impacted by the ministry of FamilyLife over the last 40 years.
As we celebrate 40 years of ministry, we are thrilled as we stop and think about how God has used FamilyLife in the lives of hundreds of thousands of couples over those four decades. And we are also grateful for those of you who have been very much a part of the legacy of FamilyLife—those of you who have supported this ministry in the past; those of you who make occasional donations; those of you who are Legacy Partners.
You’re a big part of the 40-year legacy of this ministry. If it’s been a while since you’ve made a donation, and you’d like to contribute; or maybe you’ve never made a donation, today's a good day to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation online, or call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation over the phone. Or mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today, at Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.
With that, we are going to wrap up for today. I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to hear from former NFL quarterback Jeff Kemp who has some thoughts on how men can be ready for, and ready to respond to, the blitzes all of us face in our lives. We’ll hear from Jeff Kemp on Monday. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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