Self-Mastery through Tests of Character

The Road to Self-Mastery

Throughout life, we’re confronted with many tests of character. And each test provides us an opportunity to become better and stronger.  We learn to govern our appetites by cultivating tolerance for the pain involved in delaying and moderating gratification of those appetites. And to solidify that tolerance we simply have to tested. Facing temptation and adversity are two of the three crucial tests of character.

Our faith and the core values we hold can help us become the person we strive to be. The philosophy we live by, or the particular faith we might practice, can guide us  through times of trial. And our most noble beliefs, if deeply rooted and held, can truly help us rise above our baser selves. But as I attempt to illustrate in The Judas Syndrome, the true nature and solidity of our faith is not manifested in what we profess. Rather, it’s evidenced by our actions. The same is true for the integrity of our character. It’s not so much about who we say we are but rather about the kind of person our actions reveal us to be.

Three Tests of Character: Adversity, Temptation, and Power

The truest tests of character always come with great adversity, strong temptation, or the amassing of personal power. Temptations are everywhere. And the things that lure us always hold some promise of pleasure (usually immediate) or personal gain. Many times, we’re even aware of the price we might have to pay for succumbing. But we still sometimes decide that the desirability of the situation outweighs the risk of negative consequence. That’s when we sell ourselves out. It’s also when we proclaim the true nature and strength of our character.

Real solidity of character is not about rebuffing temptation to engage in a behavior out of fear of the possible negative consequences.  Rather, we display real integrity when we rebuff the behavior because of it’s inherent moral incorrectness and the affront it would be to our value system. We also display solidity of character when we deal patiently and mindfully with adversity. Suffering always tests our core. And we unfortunately live in a time when all too many folks see no value whatsoever in suffering. Ours is an age not only of instant gratification but also of instant relief. And sometimes we unfortunately seek  relief from the “instructive” pain that can actually build and strengthen our character.

Power: The Greatest Test of Character

Lord Dalhlberg-Acton said: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But if he were correct, no newborn child would have a chance of surviving. For you see, the power one has over such a helpless and totally dependent life is, without question, absolute. Fortunately, most of us approach such power with awe and trepidation. Most of us also approach it with empathy and a deep regard for the preciousness of life. But not all of us approach power in this way. And that’s what speaks volumes about a person’s character.

Lincoln said: “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” He had it right, whereas Dalhberg-Acton, I believe, had it wrong. Power itself doesn’t corrupt. Rather it’s the already corrupt character who lacks the desire and will to relate to power in a conscientious way. That’s why power is the truest of all the tests of character.

Character-disturbed individuals tend to be rabid power-seekers who often pursue power for it’s own sake. And when they acquire power, they inevitably abuse it. That’s because they have an unholy relationship with it in the first place. Disturbed characters often like to lord power over others to aggrandize themselves. And they love wielding it to get their way. It’s always about them and never about improving things or advancing the cause of life. And it’s the way they relate to power that best bespeaks the shortcomings of their character.

Summary Thoughts on the “Fifth Commandment”

We become the master of our appetites and aversions when we face and pass crucial tests of character. And the most crucial tests come with temptation, adversity, and power. These tests come early on and often throughout life. We build strength of character by facing and passing the smaller of these tests in our early years. This prepares us to face the inevitable bigger tests later on. The disturbed characters among us failed to adequately learn the most important lessons. But that doesn’t mean they can’t learn.  Still, they have to be of the right heart and motivation to do it. And they have to access the right kind of intervention. That’s why I wrote Character Disturbance and my other books.  It’s also why I’ve posted several articles on the blog about this very topic.

Some Updates

Our next series will discuss the “sixth commandment” of sound character development. It’s another preview of my upcoming book with co-author Dr. Kathy Armistead: The Ten Commandments of Character: How to Lead a Significant Life.

Character Matters will be a live broadcast at 7 pm EDT this coming Sunday, Sept 11 and the two Sundays following, so I can take your calls. A rebroadcast of an earlier program is scheduled for September 25. No calls can be taken on that date.


22 thoughts on “Self-Mastery through Tests of Character

  1. The mother said once ” I do’nt care as long as I get what I want, When I’ve finished. You and your brother will have to make the best of it”
    That was nearly 20yrs ago

      1. Joey,
        I ask this question with all kindness and I learn from all of you. If I may ask why did you stay? I stayed because I loved him an as he got older it got worse, I truly didn’t believe in Divorce either.

        With my XCDMN it also had to do with his mother, so many of his internal issues and also father issues. This would be a whole discussion, I would have to go into at a later time It gets somewhat complicated.

        Thank you

        1. I stayed because I had emotional dependancy on my dogs. I loved my grandmother very much. Because of the loss of my grandmother and the contempt I recieved from my mother I got Dogs
          I loved my grandmother very much. Now I have woken up I cannot understand why I did. She emotionally abused me. My brother is 4yrs older than me. He and my grandmother did not get on. She physically abused him.
          When my brother was 16 yrs old he was sent to live with the father in London. I lost my brother when I was 12yrs old. Dr Simon teaches us a great deal I now understand WHY HE WAS SENT AWAY. I was kept close.
          Since my uncle was no contact with my grandmother, sister(my mother)
          And my great aunt had one of her sons do the no contact. My grandmother/mother seriously improved the process of impression management.
          Dr Simons Three Tests of Character: Adversity, Temptation, and Power

          RINGS SO TRUE for me. Because that is what my mother/grandmother were after.
          My mother was subjected to the same proccesses. She was Isolated from her brother. The tactic worked and is a tryed and tested process that gives the abuser the abillity to lord power over others

          “Disturbed characters often like to lord power over others to aggrandize themselves. And they love wielding it to get their way. It’s always about them and never about improving things or advancing the cause of life”
          My entire life with my mother/grandmother can be discribed with the above three sentences

          1. Joey,
            I appreciate your answering me. I understand this well, my father was a very verbally abusive man. Being the second oldest of 8 children the responsibility was put on me to be the caretaker of all the little ones. 6 of them.. I still care for my sis and mom.

            What you describe is Generational Sin that is carried on from one generation to the next. The sick mindset instilled in the young that are born. It is also known as a family curse. I am referencing what the Bible says about this.

            I am so grateful and feel blessed that my eyes are open and I am shedding any remanent of this diseased thinking the CD instilled in me. That is the guilt, shame,and any of those buttons that were instilled within me to control me.

            It is difficult to break away from a world full of these kinds of CD people.

            Dr. Simon is a blessing to all of us to teach us the truths and lead us out of this spiderweb maze. To give us strength and empowerment to understand, to take back our lives to me is divine intervention in my life. Including all the posters who have validated the Truth.

            Joey, I totally agree with your description: “Disturbed characters often like to lord power over others to aggrandize themselves. And they love wielding it to get their way. It’s always about them and never about improving things or advancing the cause of life”

            I feel so blessed that my eyes are open and I understand these diseased sick individuals and there malicious tactics and intent. Through all this I believe I have been gifted to reach out to others and help them understand and break free. We are blessed that we are not carrying on this Generational Sin and have broken free…….

            I feel your pain and all I can say is God Bless you and keep you safe.
            From the bottom of my heart dear kindred spirit, I am glad we have found each other in this place of safety and peace that can reach across oceans.

            (((Big Hugs))) and many blessings.

            Still looking for one of your inspirational poems!

          2. Joey,
            You said you loved your grandmother very much and now that you have woken up you can’t see why.

            I believe we loved because we are honest and genuine in our feelings, we are capable of love and most of all forgiveness. We seen them in a light of believing and loving the good things and in our love forgave the transgressions against us.

            I understand why I loved all the CD in my family and life, it is because I am truly capable of love and that is a beautiful attribute to have. However, they exploited that beautiful ability and gift we had to offer, it is not our fault they are incapable of this reciprocity and I pity their sick souls.

            You are to be commended for your loyalties and never beat yourself up for having loved. Through all this take the good that you can and know what they did is wrong. The blessing in all of it is You Joey, and the blessing you have been to this blog. I can only imagine how many you have touched with your loving heart and goodness.

            What kind of dogs did you have. I have a rescue German Spitz and think one of my doctors may take him. Then I will find another misfit no one wants and heal him, and then find a good home for him. Perhaps, I will find the one that fits me. Am also thinking of getting a service dog.

    1. So selfish and so unnatural for the thoughts of a mother. It’s hard to understand how someone can be so cruel. But we’ve learned to not make sense of non sense and just accepted that they’re bad, bad to the core. Then we are not surprised by the bad and cruel acts anymore. They become expected.

        1. Lucy and Joey
          Lucy, agree with AndyD, it can be framed as a quote. Just excellent response.

          Thanks for the “Hang in There” poem. Sometimes the road is very difficult to travel.

  2. The Rev. Eli Jenkins’ Prayer

    Every morning when I wake,
    Dear Lord, a little prayer I make,
    O please do keep Thy lovely eye
    On all poor creatures born to die

    And every evening at sun-down
    I ask a blessing on the town,
    For whether we last the night or no
    I’m sure is always touch-and-go.

    We are not wholly bad or good
    Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
    And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
    To see our best side, not our worst.

    O let us see another day!
    Bless us all this night, I pray,
    And to the sun we all will bow
    And say, good-bye – but just for now!

    1. Joey,
      I read the poem and tears came to my eyes, how wonderfully beautiful. I am going to print this one out and put it on the wall in my office so I can reread in the future. I needed this and your selection is perfect.

      From the bottom of my heart dear one, putting my arms around you across the oceans a warm embrace. I am blessed to know you, you reside in heart.

      Thank you

  3. BTOV and All,

    I have been away for two reasons….I became very very ill for a whole month. Flu, Bronckitis, and a nasal and ear infection all rolled into one. I had no one to care for me or my three furry friends, but I kept them safe and we weathered the storm.

    I don’t know if you caught this BTOV in some of the earlier posts but I took your suggestion to work back in the restaurant biz and found a job as a hostess at a high end steak house. I work four to five shifts a week, it is a complicated job since the clientele have so much money and they do want to be coddled and they get coddled! It is obscene just how much money is dropped in that place….but there it is. Money and Power and they do not like being told no! It is a pretty good job for a part time gig no benefits, but I do get fed pretty well and the shifts are mostly short…about four hours a night so I am not getting home really late. It suits the dog, she just naps in her crate while I am at work. It isn’t a great deal of money but it gives me some play money and it helps me to keep my animals. They are expensive little buggers!

    So I thought I would let you know I am still here and life keeps moving on.

    Theresa Maria

    1. Hang In There

      By Joanna Fuchs

      Hello, my friend; You’re on my mind,
      Because you’re somehow ailing,
      But your response to any challenge
      Has always been unfailing.

      So I’m confident you’ll win again;
      Hang in there, and you’ll see;
      You’ll be back on top in no time,
      Tackling life courageously.

      With kind Regards

    2. TheresaK
      I am sorry to hear about your illness, I know I have the same problem with having to care for myself. I am so glad you popped in and let us know how you are doing.

      Excellant, I thought you would fit in as a Hostess and I hope the wait staff is taking care of you. A good hostess with grace and finesse is hard to find and a real asset.

      Am at my country home taking care of things, the wolves are everywhere. Will be home soon.

      Blessings and again so “Happy” for you and the Lord does provide!


  4. TeresaK

    Glad you’re back and feeling good again. One whole month is a long time to be knocked down.

    Your job sounds suited for you and the free meals is a great perk.

    Yes Life Keeps Moving On.

  5. Joey, the poems that you bring to me are so very close to where my heart is. You just know, don’t you?

    Theresa Maria

    And yes, Lucy, life just keeps moving on.

  6. It’s one thing to protect yourself against the CDN, but yet another to watch the CDN hurt your loved ones.
    The Jerk took out after my daughter, on her birthday, because SHE DIDN’T MAKE birthday plans with him, and went out to dinner with me. I invited her. Made the plans. He never said one word about any plans he would do with her, on her birthday. No mention of it until the evening of her birthday when she was not home because she was out with me. He lashed out because she spent it with me, called her horrible names, cussed at her, the F word – to his own daughter. It infuriates me. She’s a young adult. The only thing I could do was tell her to quit reading his texts, and she does not have to answer to them, she does not have to defend herself, that he won’t quit texting-screaming as long as she keeps responding. The only way he will stop if she stops.
    So I’m trying to educate her on the scumbag that he is. How he uses tactic after tactic on her. He didn’t invite her to anything, turned it on her that she should have made plans with him, told her he was cutting her off. He behaves like an 8 year old tyrant. Uses anger, guilt, threats, everything he has against her. He takes out his hate for me on her. Poor girl. She’s desperately trying to save enough money to move out of that hell house. My advise to her is to stay away from him, have as little contact as possible. The house is large, and he stays downstairs most of the time and she upstairs with her child.
    The STBX is getting worse. No matter how much I help daughter, he’s damaging her. I’ve been telling her that she’s in a Hell House that will make her sick and she needs to do what she has to to get out.
    What confuses her is then he will be “nice”. Ugh.
    This divorce is not coming quick enough. He’s stressing me out, her out, draining the finances. And it is all out of my control. Watching my life burn.

    1. Lucy,
      You mean the CDMN malignant narcissist. Also, a Jekyl and Hyde with poor daughter. I doubt at this time SB will stop because daughter stops, SB will just rage regardless, SB will want attention, of any kind and she is his current whipping boy, or scapegoat. This is a very bad environment for the baby, the baby can feel all the hostility from SB and the anxiety your daughter is feeling.

      I really feel for your daughter and grandson. Hopefully, at some point SB will goof up again. Since I have heard your story, the best place for SB is in prison, he is a menace to society and to his own family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *