A Change in Character

By: Jill Briscoe

Being a Christian means a change of character brought about by discipleship, beginning the moment you meet Jesus. By change of character I don’t mean a change of personality, but rather the ability to handle your personality, to enhance it and find its full potential. For example, the person who is lazy by nature will probably be a pretty laid-back character, fun to be with. After accepting Christ, this sort of person should be even more fun to be with, and Christ will help him not to allow his strengths to be his weaknesses anymore.

Our daughter is an extremely conscientious girl. She is an overachiever who doesn’t particularly enjoy overachieving! So many times while growing up she would say with great intensity such things as, “Why can’t I be like my brothers and take life a little easier? Why do I always have to get an A when a B would be perfectly acceptable? I wish I could be like them!”

One day a wise friend told her, “Judy, you’ll always be Judy. God made you with this type of personality. But He will help you to “handle” yourself, to cope with your strengths, which are also your weaknesses.”  that piece of advice was an enormous help to our daughter.

How often do Simons wish they were Andrews, Phillips wish they were Nathanaels, Matthews wish they were Peters! That is an exercise in futility. Christ changes for the better what is best and helps us cope with the things that are lacking in our personalities. He does this in many ways, one of the most common being to link us with others who can balance out the deficiencies.

One way or another, Christ will enable us to accept our inability to be what He never created us to be. But make no bones about it, Christ always perfects our potential over time and eternity.  That is, Christ always finishes what He begins. I’ve never seen an unfinished sunset or a perfect bird with one wing—have you? We can be confident of this: “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

During the early years of our marriage, my husband and I worked with young people in Europe as part of a missionary organization. When that assignment was over and we had to move to America and leave those lovable teenagers we had been working with, I found myself struggling emotionally. We had seen many of these young people come to Christ from really raw backgrounds. They had kicked the drug habit, cleaned up their sex lives, and begun to show radical changes in their behavior. What would happen if their leaders just “disappeared,” I worried? Would they go on with God?

My husband reminded me, “You didn’t save them; you don’t have to keep them, Jill!” No, the work in them was not finished. They were “in the making” and in no ways “made”—but the God who had begun that changing work in their hearts had promised to complete it, and I could safely leave them in His hands.

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine.