Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.
Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. So glad you could join me today. I couldn't wait to talk about this particular topic. We're going to talk about character. More specifically, I want to talk about restoring character.
A lot of people talk about organizational character. Today we're talking about global character, but I had a third-grade dropout daddy, the wisest man I’ve ever met in my life, who said any change has to begin with the individual, and so before we can expect to see organizational changes and before we can expect to see global changes with regard to character, we need to see a transformation of individual character, and so that's a restoration project that I am currently involved in. [01:07.2]
I love restoring things. In fact, my big dream is to restore a car from my childhood. My folks had a 1955 Chevy Bel Air and, oh boy, do I want to find one in somebody's garage that I can buy cheaply and take my time and restore. I'm talking about that two-door Sports Coupe convertible with the V8 under the hood. Come on, somebody.
Restoration is big business today, isn't it? I mean, we even have television networks dedicated to restoration from HGTV to the DIY Network. And you know what? My wife loves those restoration shows. I do my best to tolerate them. I get frustrated because they make it look so easy like, Join me and Biff as we build a treehouse in 20 minutes. I go to the hardware store, I can't even find nails in 20 minutes. [02:00.6]
But it's big business and I think that it's big business because of the fact that we are so active and so desiring that which is nostalgic and that which we can create, and those driving forces really help us to grab hold of a notion of restoration.
But what about personal restoration? I know it may not be as nostalgic. I know it may not be a celebratory. But do you know what the reality is? Anything that has spent any amount of time is in need of restoration and, oftentimes, we look outwardly for projects that we can restore. Right? But what about looking inwardly at restoring our behavior, at restoring our character? Personal restoration is a lot more difficult, I think, than restoring an automobile. You know why? With a car you don't have to fight inconsistent character. You don't have to fight a stubborn will. [03:01.8]
One of the wisest persons to ever live was King Solomon and he said at one point there is an appointed time for everything. Everything, every event under the sun has its appointment time. Among the items he listed, he said there's a time to kill and a time to heal, to tear down and to build up, to love and to hate. There’s a time for war and a time for peace.
I really believe that now is the time to heal. Now is the time to build up to come together to love and to be at peace. Those actions require the highest level of character, not just corporate character, but personal character. You see, I believe, like I just said, anything that has spent any time on earth needs restoration, anyone who has spent any time on earth needs restoring. [04:00.3]
I am interested in restoring good behavior and I am at the top of the list when it comes to being needy for that restoration. Far more than accumulation, I want to restore my character. Let me say that again. Far more than the attainment of material things, there's a greater need in my life these days and that is to work every day at restoring good behavior, restoring my character.
Listen to this, friends. I have thought about this for a couple of years. Let me synthesize it in three simple statements. Guess what’s compromise in a shallow, superficial materialistic society? Common sense. Guess what's compromised in an outcome oriented culture where it's all about the bottom line and the end result? A reluctance to execute basics. Guess what's compromised in a self-centered culture? Character. [05:02.3]
Rick, are you telling us that in a shallow superficial culture, where it's all about the outcome and the bottom line, where it's all about me, myself and I, we are going to compromise our common sense? Yes. Our reluctance to execute basic behaviors? Yes. Our character? Yes. We see it every single day, friends. That's why we must be involved in a daily restoration project that works to transform us from the inside out.
Friends, it's because we live in a world where we'd rather look good than be good. Come on, somebody. I think we need to take a page out of Grandma's playbook. You see, Grandma and Grandpa worried a whole lot less about what they drove and where they lived, and what they looked like. They worried a whole lot more about telling the truth and thinking the best of people, and doing what they say they were going to do. And those basics exercised over a consistent period of time, that generates a greater capacity for a full life. [06:08.5]
Somehow in a materialistic, superficial culture, we've shied away from that, thinking that it's all about how we present. It's all about how we appear, and so, impressionistic living really does drape over the fabric of our existence in this day and age, calling forth the need for the restoration of character. I really believe that to be very important.
You know what? Where it's all about the bottom line, it's not necessarily all about the bottom line. As a matter of fact, I like to say it this way. Rarely is the bottom line the top priority. It is not about preserving what is mine. It is not about protecting what is mine. It is not about accumulating like nobody's business. [07:04.7]
I think we've bought into this myth that says he who finishes or ends with the most toys wins. Oh, no. If that's the definition of success, we have a serious problem in our society. No wonder Solomon began Ecclesiastes these by saying, “vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” In other words, generations are going to come. Generations are going to go. In other words, all our striving will be blown away by the wind. What we'll ask is the good that we have done.
My daddy, the wisest man I’ve ever met in my life, a third-grade dropout, every single day of his life, he reinforced Solomon's wisdom and he did it in every single conversation, even as last conversation with an admonition to grow my character. He did it by saying the same three words to end every conversation, “Son, be good.” [08:07.9]
That was it. “Son, be good.” Three simple words demanded a different standard. He demanded and expected good character from his son.
I've been doing a lot of reading lately. I read Pat Williams’ wonderful book about a basketball coach named John Wooden. You know about John Wooden. He is a simple farm boy that had some principles his father gave him along with a $2 bill, and that remained in Wooden's pocket in his wallet for 90-plus years on this earth. John Wooden coached basketball at UCLA to pay the bills, but his calling was to impact lives, and he took those basic lessons from his father and he applied those lessons to every single aspect of his life. [09:04.4]
He lived almost to 100 years of age and people don't focus so much on his championships. He won several national championships at UCLA. People focus on the kind of man that John Wooden was. He inspired you to be a better person. He challenged himself to be a better person.
Listen to what Wooden said on one occasion as it relates to character. He said, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” He said, “It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Then, he said these words. Live today as though you're going to die tomorrow. Learn today as though you're going to live forever. [09:55.6]
I can hear in his voice, my father's words ringing in my soul with the piercing familiarity. “Son, be good.” Don't be conceited. Be grateful. Don't be greedy. Be humble. Don't be arrogant. Be good. My dad expected and demanded good character. Hold onto that phrase for a moment, “good character.”
Warren Susman wrote a great book years ago titled Culture as History. Susman examines attitudes and perceptions during the transformation years in American society. Listen to what he said and I quote, “This term, good character, reached its peak in the 19th century.” Are you kidding me? The 1800s? Yes. Susman goes on and says character was a key word in the vocabulary and good character was a key phrase in the vocabulary of both Englishman and Americans. It was considered, quote, “an essential component of one's behavior.” [11:12.2]
However, in the 20th century, things shifted dramatically. Susman argued that we transitioned from a producer culture to a consumer culture. The results, self-sacrifice was replaced by self-realization; nobility of character was replaced with cultivating personality traits.
Oh my, but I want to tell you something, friend, the authentically great, they never stray from good character. The authentically great, they don't take shortcuts. The authentically great, they continue to rehab, to refurbish, to restore, to transform. The authentically great, they do things that other people don't. [12:01.9]
The man that was named the greatest coach of the 20th century by ESPN, John Wooden, took simple common-sense principles from his father, executed those common-sense principles on a daily basis and grew his capacity for character. What did you say, Coach Wooden? He said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation.” Character is who you are, but reputation is what people think you are.
There's a preacher in Atlanta named Charles Stanley. I love listening to him. He said on one occasion, “Character is a belief in right and wrong, and choosing right regardless of the cost.” Character means being good regardless. Character means doing right regardless. A third-grade dropout once told me, “Son, it's never wrong to do the right thing.” A third-grade dropout daddy once told me, “Son, how you do anything is how you do everything.” [13:10.0]
You see, the greatest leaders among us lead themselves first. It's one thing to coach up the people in an organization. It's another thing to coach up ourselves first. One day I'm going to restore that 1955 two-door Bel Air convertible Sports Coupe, but until that day, I think I'm going to work on restoring my character and I'm guided daily by the words of the wisest man I've ever met in my life, who said on one occasion and that occasion occurred in every single conversation, “Son, be good.”
I go back to 1997. My father has not long to live. I said, “Dad, are you scared?” He said, “Oh, no, son. I'm not scared at all. Why should I be scared? I've had a great life. I married your mother, a wonderful woman. I've raised my sons. Now, Ricky, you guys carry on. You boys carry on.” My father was teaching me how to die, so that I would know how to live. [14:16.0]
His last words before I left that hospital room that day were these, “Son, be good.” Be good. You know what, friends? There is no substitute for good behavior. There is no substitute for good character. If you have lost all else, but you still have your character, you can regain everything.
So, friends, I close with a quote that I think sums up good character and restoring good character every day. I think this quote just sums it up perfectly. I have a friend who said on one occasion these words.” Make writing your letter of recommendation easy, but make writing your eulogy impossible.” [15:12.2]
Think about those words for a few days. Oh, friends, I’m sure I'm going to think about those words as I continue to work on character restoration. Make writing your letter of recommendation easy, your eulogy impossible.
I’ve sure enjoyed our visit today and until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I can ask. How you livin’? I'll talk to you soon.
Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audio book right now.
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