Personality or Character?

I’ve been musing about this idea for a while now.  With the election coming up, a friend directed me to a YouTube video of an “election sermon” (the term sermon is used loosely in this context, at least in my opinion).  The pastor said that once a year, he does this, in order to give his congregants advice on deciding how to vote.  He pointed out that our choices should be made of the basis of the policies supported and represented, not the personality of the candidate.  I certainly agree with this …. However…. what about a person’s character?  What is the difference and are those differences important?

So, I’ve been doing some research, and here’s what I found.  Personality refers to our outer self.  People notice and react to our personality all the time.  We may be impulsive or blunt, outgoing or shy, gloomy or cheerful.  Our character is our inner self.  It is less apparent, and is revealed by the way our deeply held beliefs and moral codes influence our behavior.  It may be harder to determine someone’s character because we must observe their actions over time. Character is more stable.  It rarely changes, unless the individual’s core beliefs change.  Personality is easier to manipulate, and has even been called a “mask.”

Having said all this, what does it mean, especially in a political context?  To me, it means examining a candidate according to both their views and behavior over time.  Are they consistent?  Are they loyal?  Do they lead a life that is worthy or respect?  Do they respect others, regardless of their political views? Do they demonstrate true compassion? Do they seek to promote unity and understanding or stir up discord?

Can a person espouse Christian values and positions and lack Christian character?  If that is what I see, I would doubt their trustworthiness and be uninclined to support them.  Over time, that person will advance those things that represent their true inner beliefs (whatever those are).  Unfortunately many of our politicians, in both parties, seem primarily concerned with self aggrandizement and personal power.

What kind of character are we looking for?  In my Sunday School class, we’ve been studying Colossians which says:

“… rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language …. Do not lie to each other … clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience …”  Colossians 3:8-9, 12

Election day is over.  We’ve made our choices.  Only time will tell if we’ve been wise.

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established”  Proverbs 24:3