“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

The early rush to the elections of November 2012 features a blizzard of propaganda. The emphasis concentrates upon a short list of criteria. One candidate highlights personality as the winning trait. Another touts reputation as the most important quality. A third one stresses intellect and brilliance. No, another says, it depends upon a particular skill, which that candidate possesses. Another one accentuates tailor made policy statements designed to woo a particular voter segment.

Unfortunately, each of these criteria singly may appear attractive, but miss the mark. Elbert Hubbard remarked, “Many a man’s reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.” Personality alone will not sustain an advantage. Too often, the one of supposed high intellect proves of no earthly good. How will the one with the attractive skills and well-tuned policies react under unpredictable circumstances?

Although the criteria offered to voters identify important qualities, they all pale in contrast to the most important one, character. Its absence or failures disqualify a candidate with otherwise appealing features.

The person of character excels above all others. A boastful person fails to realize that pride frequently brings shame (1), contention (2), and failure (3). On the other hand, humility precedes honor. (4)

Deceit may bring temporary victory, but its effects will rear their ugly heads at an untimely occasion and foster folly. Deception produces false counsel. In contrast, the one who speaks truthfully engenders faithfulness from others.

Greed and the cronyism attached to it blind eyes and distort judgment. Expedience brings happiness now but sorrow later. Prudence produces wisdom, knowledge, and discretion. (5)

When in doubt as to a person’s character, look at that person’s friends. A person’s friends reveal the underlying nature of what one values. Remember, bad company corrupts good character.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Do any of the present candidates of all political persuasions pass this simple test? Without exception, they now attempt to rewrite their past failures, to justify their actions, or to disregard them altogether…a glaring blight on their character.

Instead of a list of candidates with character, we see a cast of characters.

Character determines choices. The future seldom fits forecasts. With few exceptions, then, the decisions of an unknown future depend upon the character of the one who will make those choices.

Beware. Bad character lies at the root of failure.


  1. Proverbs 11:2
  2. Proverbs 13:10
  3. Proverbs 16:18
  4. Proverbs 15:33
  5. Proverbs 8:12

© Thomas P Hill. Website: (Used with permission)

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1 comment
  1. Excellent article.  So, to sum things up, once we get to heaven, we’ll discover that all former politicians are now janitors, I suppose.  😉

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