Tag Archive: facebook status


How do you judge good character?

As i have been thinking about the idea of ‘Character’ and ‘A person of good character’  it seems to be a bit subjective or elusive in terms of definition.

One of the dictionary definitions Uncle Google came up with was ‘the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.’

But the problem with that definition is that it uses the word moral [which in itself, these days, seems to be a subjective term] which Uncle G describes as ‘principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.’

And so, instead of trying to come up with any kind of definitive definition [is there such a thing as a non-definitive definition?] of what i mean when i talk about a person of character, i thought it might be more helpful to describe some aspects that i [and possibly some others, and hopefully also you] think of when i think of the idea.

This could be a multi-parted post and as i suggested, instead of trying to find ‘the answer’, i am rather wanting to explore a few ideas and concepts that might give us a clue and you can decide out loud in the comments section whether or not you agree with me. These are in no way in any kind of order of more or less importance but simply as ideas come to mind, i will look at them and invite your opinion and please do give it.


I was alerted to the fact [again!] today that a LOT of Facebook statuses tend to be negative – people complaining about the weather [too hot or too cold or too rainy or too snowful] or moaning because their sports team lost [usually carefully disguised as a rant against the biased ref] or a whole bunch of other things.

This made me think of my own. Do i tend towards being more positive in outlook or more negative? And what message do my social networks carry about me in that way?

And positivity or negativity are both highly contagious. Hang around with either type of people continuously and you will find yourselves likely to start sounding the same…

Maybe a good character check when it comes to Social Networkings is subtracting my negative/complainy/dissatisfied with someone/something messages from all the positive/life-giving/gratitude ones and seeing if i can come up with a positive number? How would you do on this?

A few months ago i started removing some of the constantly negative voices from my The Twitterer feed and it has done me the world of good. I am not talking about people who speak prophetically into a broken system and call for change, but simply those who always seem to be moaning or complaining and not offering any solutions or seldom focusing on the good and the great. Same with Facebook – if someone is constantly negative i eventually turn down the frequency of their involvement in my newsfeed.

i would suggest that the ability to be positive and hopeful and see good or the possibility of change, even in the most difficult and trying of circumstances, is a strong indicator of character.

i would love to hear your thoughts on how character can be defined for you…

[For the next post dealing with consistency, click here]

i don’t have anything to write today, but that’s not going to stop me writing it

i don’t have anything to say, but that’s not going to stop me from saying it

i don’t have an opinion of my own, so let me just regurgitate what everyone else is saying

the thoughts i think are far too controversial to think out loud, so let me write something that will generate mass appeal

i am not involved in any social justice personally, so it is imperative i regularly fill out my status with the latest trend

let me forward this video clip to show you what i think you should be getting more involved in

let me comment on this article i haven’t completely read through because something in the title and opening paragraph caught my eye

and now let me express my strong opinion on this person who will never read this statement as my way of holding them accountable

[and argue and make personal statements about you who might think differently]

and let me keep up with the latest trending hashtag [you know, so i can stay relevant]

i don’t even have enough words to finish this post

i don’t have anything to write today, but

so this week i found out on twitter that our south african olympic swimming gold medalist, cameron van der bergh, had admitted to cheating to get his gold medal by doing a succession of dolphin kicks underwater in the pool [apparently only one is allowed] and it bummed me out.

so, as one does, i made a facebook status about it… and was doubly surprised and bummed at how many [mostly christians] wrote comments on my status defending his actions and largely from the perspective that “everyone else does it” which was cameron’s defense as well.

waitasecond, so cheating is okay if everyone is doing it? of course cos how else could he win and because the rule is silly anyways and they policed it at this other competition and so he didn’t have to cheat but this one they didn’t so he really had to and WHAT??!?!?!?

flashbacks to a baptist summer camp where i think i was camp pastor – at the time i was involved in a 6 month course on youth ministry at the baptist seminary [the only seminary coursework i have done thus far] and a bunch of the students who were training to be pastors were at this camp for youth aged 13 to 18 and the guy leading the course on youth work was heading up sports.

somehow i managed to be standing near him when a dispute was brought to him about one of the camp soccer/football games that had just been played where the rule for the game was no players over 18 [or maybe 21?] were allowed to play. one of the students [from my class at seminary, training to be a pastor] was being accused of playing in the one game despite being a few years over the allowed age.SHOCK ONE – his defense: the other team was doing it. so i am standing there not believing my ears and waiting for the lecturer to open a can of something on some part of his anatomy when SHOCK TWO – the lecturer at this christian college completely backs his student and rules in favour of him.

so clearly, cheating is condoned as long as everyone else is doing it. but that doesn’t make it right.

and reading the arguments on the ‘book they all sound pretty convincing [well not all, some of them are downright ridiculous, let’s be honest] but no-one is arguing how okay Jesus is with it. because you can’t. because He is not. i mean, i can certainly not see Jesus standing in condemnation over cameron as if he has done the worst thing ever in life and demanding that he be kicked out of the games [Go, and swim no more!] but at the same time, i imagine there might be a secret sigh, like He probly did ever so often when His disciples just completely missed the plot again, and maybe a fireside chat about how the medals that we chase in life in terms of character and integrity being so much more profoundly important than any the world might hang around our neck.

in fact Jesus had quite a lot to say about how the ‘everybody is doing it’ argument is a more likely sign that you are on the wrong path [see the whole of Matthew 7] – He said things like “the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved”[matthew 24.12-13] and we also read, ‘For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.’ [2 Timothy 4.3-4]

so i don’t believe with any part of me that Jesus would have been okay with what either cameron or the training-to-be-pastor youth leader did and although the event/incident itself may seem more or less trivial to you depending on who you are, there is a greater principle at work, because if i can watch my pastor being okay with cheating in a meaningless football/soccer game then maybe it sends me the message that it is okay to cheat in a business deal, and if i as a young south african being inspired by one of my countrymen can hear that he cheated to get there then maybe that tells me it is okay to cheat in an exam or even on my girlfriend [as long as i can cite examples of other people doing it]

it is a slippery road. to be christian and defend or even applaud unChristlike behaviour.

and a lot of people might be wondering why i am making such a big deal of such a ‘small thing’ and it is because the small things become the big things – the enemy is looking to destroy us and any area where we allow him a foot in the door he will take full advantage of it until he gets such a gap that he can force himself well and truly into our lives…

the bottom line for me, i think, is that you can’t be a Christ follower and then live by the wisdom or ideals or compromise of the world. The term ‘Christ follower’ suggests the following of Christ.

so yesterday we lost a rugby match. like a game. i hear there’ll be another one in a few weeks time. in four years time there will even be this kind of one. we won it before. a different team will win it this time. the world will continue to turn.

within twenty minutes of us losing the game i was completely bummed. not because we lost the game, but because naturally facebook statusville became the dumping ground for peoples emotions. which is fine. i was bummed we lost and posted a status of ‘aw’ or something [i am a bigger cricket fan than rugby so maybe that blunts it a little] and a more hardcore ‘robbed’ or something on twitter. but then i thort about it for a quick moment and had a perspective ‘it’s a game’ moment and so changed it to something more happy or pleasant or something.

and then i started seeing the updates. which started with people being bummed. and progressed to people being really bummed. then the south african’ness kicked in and people started being bummed with the ref. [cos clearly with 80% possession it was really only his fault that we lost the game] and then i started reading statements about how the ref should be high fived in the face with a brick and how someone else if confronted with Hitler and the ref and two bullets would shoot the ref twice or something [there’s some great perspective for you] and i just heard the ultimate extreme of ‘What do South Africans and the USA have in common? They both faced tragedies of 9-11’ [being the score we lost by as opposed to the date some planes were directed into buildings killing thousands of people]. Wow. Really?

back in the day i would have probably jumped on to a whole bunch of statuses [stati?] and taken people on and challenged and so on [but my wife rightly says i do that too much and so i am trying to be better at doing it more selectively] and so i tried to rather focus my energies on creating positive statuses [stati?] on my own page to channel a different kind of energy [altho i did make a ‘bummed’ twitter tweet at it which was not appreciated by someone]. tbV posted a challenge status and people started taking her on [as they do] and so i tried really hard to not get involved in that one.

am i saying don’t be bummed by the fact that we lost the rugby world cup match? not at all. be bummed. but try and keep it in perspective.

but the real point of this blog goes beyond that. it is the reaction to Val’s statement and the kind of reaction that arrives strongly any time you try and call someone publically on some public stance they make on facebook. i have had people unfriend me because of it. “how dare you challenge me publically on a public statement i am making?”

the current reality of it is that facebook statuses [stati?] and twitter feeds have become a place where people feel the freedom to dump emotionally without any form of accountability… so cowards feel the freedom or bravado to ‘say’ things they would never say to people and no-one is held accountable or generally appears to want to be… all people want is to be able to say what they want to say and screw anyone else [that sounds pretty harsh but i honestly believe that’s where we currently find ourselves]

and it is not healthy or good – as good friends to each other we should have accountability especially to speak into the lives of those we are really close to and need to really challenge each other on how we speak and live and status update… and it needs to be mutual. and we need to take it seriously. ESPECIALLY if we identify ourselves as Jesus followers.

think before you speak [i know, i know, i far too often struggle with mouth-moves-faster-than-my-brain’alism] and realise that when you facebook status update or tweet you are in fact speaking. people are listening. people are reading. people are watching.

where is the iron sharpening iron?

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