Letter to a Young Church Member on Character

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Dear Charles:
I am very sorry that you have had to go through such a very bad time. It seems to me to have been some insensitivity, some careless thinking and behavior, and some plain human hatefulness on the part of the ones doing this to you and making you undergo this experience. I am sorry that such things happen in this world but they do. I send you much sympathy. I also send you great pride.
I am proud to say that in the company of St. Paul I believe in character. The scriptures advise us to build character. By that it means good Apostolic ideas or virtues consciously applied to real life situations through willpower. We continue the steady application of the virtues sifted through intelligent thinking to real life situations until this becomes a habit.. Many of these good habits of intelligent application of virtue grouped together in one person form character. To have character is very good, very desirable, and a significant contribution by those who have it to the harmony of the community..
Sadly not many today have character. (This is a clear sign of the degeneracy of the times in which we live.) I cannot tell you how proud I am of the fact that you do and have exhibited it plainly.
Look what this bad experience has taught you, or if you already knew it, reinforced in your character. I see exhibited qualities of patience, persistence and faith quite remarkable and manly in one your age. I feel I may I speak to you as an adult who understands the totality of maleness includes masculinity of mind: steady faith, persistence, patience, objectivity, moral reasoning and coping realistically with problems.
I am truly amazed that:

1. You did not give up. You soldiered on.

2. You did not have to feel great to keep going. You continued to work even though you felt poorly and did not resort to drugs and excessive drinking which In excess are the mark of effeminate souls.

3. You intelligently discussed with me that part inside of you that wanted to “sigh and die.” You showed remarkable bravery in facing and discussing it instead of throwing out the false bravado of pseudo masculinity.

4. You kept at the mental and physical work you had to do to cope with the situation.

5. You continued to be thorough and regular in your working. You went after each point. You were neither careless or shallow.

Every challenging experience, good or bad, is chance to learn from it, to cope with reality, to form good habits or to reinforce those you have. You did very well. I can truly say you made your stumbling blocks into stepping stones. So you have learned a lot from your unfortunate experience. You have learned more than I’m sure you realize now. Later it will come to you.
Above all what you have learned is what is not usually taught in college. College generally stuffs you with dead facts. What you have learned is real learning, that Is applying good attitudes in life. This is hard to teach and rarely learned in college, but what all parents want their sons to learn. Applying good attitudes and knowledge to actual situations well is what it is all about.
Luther made his mantra the New Testament quotation, “the just shall live by faith.” Faith is a good attitude of affirmation and belief applied to real life situations.
You can’t let bad experiences make you so hurt, or so angry, or so full of rage that you put out your good attitudes. But you are never to be a Pollyanna. You may and should ventilate, that is get out your rage and anger, but after the rage is over, go back to applying good attitudes in real life.
If you give your effort all you have or nearly so (and you will know inside when you have done this), you have done well, if you do work hard and lose, as can happen, then I suggest the blockade in the path is the will of God. Then you need to consider taking a different road.
But if you work hard with a good attitude, exhibiting character, I find you often succeed. It is nice when this happens, but it is not a tragedy if it does not. For when you apply your skills creatively, intelligently and with hard work to the task before you, you are glorifying God. The Auld Catechism says that the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. So no matter what happens, we should glorify God. And I am proud to say to you that I think in this matter you have truly done so.
I delight in your faith. If I have done anything for you, and I am sure you know from your parents that I have, I am proud to have done it for so fine a young person as you. I am old, but I shall die happier knowing the future belongs to you.
I give thanks to God for you, your parents and your family.

your pastor,
James MacLeod
(The Rev. Dr.)


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.


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