Teddy Roosevelt On Character

Theodore Roosevelt was well aware that talent alone wasn’t enough to sustain an individual, a family, or a nation. Talent and perseverance, he preached, must be supported by character. In a series of speeches bundled together in the book The Strenuous Life, TR had much to say about character development and integrity. You can check out my review of The Strenuous Life by clicking here. 

“It is a good thing to have a keen, fine intellectual development in a nation, to produce orators, artists, successful business men; but it is an infinitely greater thing to have those solid qualities which we group together under the name of character—sobriety, steadfastness, the sense of obligation toward one’s neighbor and one’s God, hard common sense, and, combined with it, the lift of generous enthusiasm toward whatever is right. These are the qualities which go to make up true national greatness.” 

“We do not need men of unsteady brilliancy or erratic power—unbalanced men. The men we need are the men of strong, earnest, solid character—the men who possess the homely virtues, and who to these virtues add rugged courage, rugged honesty, and high resolve.” 

“The men who with ax in the forests and pick in the mountains and plow on the prairies pushed to completion the dominion of our people over the American wilderness have given the definite shape to our nation. They have shown the qualities of daring, endurance, and far-sightedness, of eager desire for victory and stubborn refusal to accept defeat, which go to make up the essential manliness of the American character. Above all, they have recognized in practical form the fundamental law of success in American life—the law of worthy work, the law of high, resolute endeavor.” 

“After all has been said and done, the chief factor in any man’s success or failure must be his own character—that is, the sum of his common sense, his courage, his virile energy and capacity.” 

 “Bodily vigor is good, and vigor of intellect is even better, but far above both is character.” 

“In the long run, in the great battle of life, no brilliancy of intellect, no perfection of bodily development, will count when weighed in the balance against that assemblage of virtues, active and passive, of moral qualities, which we group together under the name of character…. Of course this does not mean that either intellect or bodily vigor can safely be neglected. On the contrary, it means that both should be developed, and that not the least of the benefits of developing both comes from the indirect effect which this development itself has upon the character.” 

“Character is shown in peace no less than in war. As the greatest fertility of invention, the greatest perfection of armament, will not make soldiers out of cowards, so no mental training and no bodily vigor will make a nation great if it lacks the fundamental principles of honesty and moral cleanliness.” 

“Alike for the nation and the individual, the one indispensable requisite is character—character that does and dares as well as endures, character that is active in the performance of virtue no less than firm in the refusal to do aught that is vicious or degraded.” 

Be sure to check out my review of Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography by clicking here, and read some additional quotes from TR here and here. 

12 Quotes From “The Strenuous Life”

Teddy Roosevelt believed firmly that a nation rose or fell as individuals exercised strong character or lived a slothful life. He not only preached it, he lived it! The Strenuous Life is a collect of TR’s speeches that emphasized what he called “the manly characters.” Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life.” 

“A man’s first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a freeman. In the same way, while a nation’s first duty is within its own borders, it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.” 

“If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.” 

“Scant attention is paid to the weakling or the coward who babbles of peace; but due heed is given to the strong man with sword girt on thigh who preaches peace, not from ignoble motives, not from fear or distrust of his own powers, but from a deep sense of moral obligation.” 

“Strive manfully for righteousness, and strive so as to make your efforts for good count.” 

“We are in honor bound to put into practice what we preach; to remember that we are not to be excused if we do not; and that in the last resort no material prosperity, no business acumen, no intellectual development of any kind, can atone in the life of a nation for the lack of the fundamental qualities of courage, honesty, and common sense.” 

“If a man permits largeness of heart to degenerate into softness of head, he inevitably becomes a nuisance in any relation of life. If sympathy becomes distorted and morbid, it hampers instead of helping the effort toward social betterment.” 

“The quality of self-help is so splendid a quality that nothing can compensate for its loss; yet, like every virtue, it can be twisted into a fault, and it becomes a fault if carried to the point of cold-hearted arrogance, of inability to understand that now and then the strongest may be in need of aid, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, the strong should always be glad of the chance in turn to aid the weak.” 

“The Bible always inculcates the need of the positive no less than the negative virtues, although certain people who profess to teach Christianity are apt to dwell wholly on the negative. We are bidden not merely to be harmless as doves, but also as wise as serpents. It is very much easier to carry out the former part of the order than the latter; while, on the other hand, it is of much more importance for the good of mankind that our goodness should be accompanied by wisdom than that we should merely be harmless. If with the serpent wisdom we unite the serpent guile, terrible will be the damage we do; and if, with the best of intentions, we can only manage to deserve the epithet of ‘harmless,’ it is hardly worth while to have lived in the world at all.” 

“The boy who is going to make a great man, or is going to count in any way in after life, must make up his mind not merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses or defeats.” 

“Softness of heart is an admirable quality, but when it extends its area until it also becomes softness of head, its results are anything but admirable.” 

“A man is worthless unless he has in him a lofty devotion to an ideal, and he is worthless also unless he strives to realize this ideal by practical methods. He must promise, both to himself and to others, only what he can perform; but what really can be performed he must promise, and such promise he must at all hazards make good.” 

More quotes from TR are coming soon, so stay tuned! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—A Man Of Steeled Character (Proverbs 24)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small (Proverbs 24:10).

Character is forged like steel—with fire and hammering. 

There are blessings that will come in no other way than for a man or woman to let God forge steel-like character in them. 

A man of steeled character…

…doesn’t try to go along with those who cut corners (vv. 1-2, 15), but builds his foundation on godly wisdom and righteousness (vv. 3-4). 

…seeks counsel from other wise people (vv. 5-8). 

…stands strong in times of adversity (v. 10). 

…rescues those heading toward destruction (vv. 11-12). 

…knows the boundaries and the blessings of temperance (vv. 13-14). 

…isn’t kept down when he stumbles, and never rejoices when others stumble (vv. 16-18). 

…never frets because of evil people (vv. 19-22). 

…is fair, impartial, and just (vv. 23-26). 

…has an outstanding work ethic (v. 27), unlike the one lacking in character (vv. 30-34). 

…doesn’t slander others nor try to “get even” with someone who attacked him (vv. 28-29). 

Are you willing to let God forge steel-like character in you?

12 Quotes From “Developing The Leader Within You 2.0”

Whether you’re a novice or a veteran leader, there’s so much to learn from John Maxwell in his book Developing The Leader Within You 2.0! Check out my full book review by clicking here, and stay tuned for even more quotes coming soon. 

“Developing yourself to become the leader you have the potential to be will change everything for you. It will add to your effectiveness, subtract from your weaknesses, divide your workload, and multiply your impact.” 

“You have influence in this world, but realizing your potential as a leader is your responsibility. If you put effort into developing yourself as a leader, you have the potential to influence more people and to do so in more significant ways.” 

“When you say everything is a high priority, then nothing is a high priority. It really indicates that you’re unwilling or unable to make a decision, which means you won’t get anything done.” 

“Instead of filling every space in my calendar, what I needed to do was create some white space. If I didn’t, nobody else was going to. People who keep burning the candle at both ends aren’t as bright as they think they are.”

“People cannot climb beyond the limitations of their character. Leaders cannot succeed beyond the depth of their character.” 

“Instead of wanting to point to my breakthroughs, I want to direct people to the brokenness that has led to my breakthroughs.” 

“When it comes to character, I believe the best guardrails are the decisions you make before you face high-pressure situations.” 

“People do not naturally resist change; they resist being changed.” 

“If life is tough for individuals, its difficulty is multiplied for leaders. Individuals can think me, but leaders must think we. A leader’s life is not his or her own. Thinking we means other people are included, and that means their problems are also yours to deal with.” 

“You can’t solve problems for others. If you do, you’ll be forever solving their problems. You must solve problems with them—at least until they get the hang of it.” 

“Good leaders don’t just resolve the issue to get it off their plates quickly for the sake of their own comfort. They help create solutions that take their people and their organization forward and put them in a better position than they were in before they experienced the problem.” 

“As a leader, you need to see opportunities differently than most people. They are a chance for you to learn about yourself, your team, and your opportunities. They provide you a way to improve your own life, improve the lives of others, and gaining influence.”

Saturday In The Proverbs—Knowing True & False Riches (Proverbs 22)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…riches… (Proverbs 22:1, 4, 16).

There are earthly riches and there are heavenly riches. There are temporary gains and there is eternal wealth. This Proverb helps direct us to true riches that last forever. 

Good character and a good reputation are better than money (v. 1)

God alone decides what is truly valuable (v. 2)

Prudence helps you avoid bankruptcy (v. 3)

Humbly fearing God is the path to eternal wealth (v. 4)

A perverse pursuit of wealth is a hard and painful path (v. 5)

Better godly children than gobs of money (vv. 6, 15)

Debt enslaves (v. 7)

Cutting corners to make a buck will come back to bite you (v. 8)

Generosity leads to more blessings (v. 9)

Don’t pay attention to those who scoff at God’s ways (vv. 10, 24, 25)

A grace-filled, pure lifestyle will get you noticed and rewarded (v. 11)

God rewards those who do things His way (vv. 12, 17-21)

A good work ethic brings rewards (vv. 13, 29)

Immoral pursuits end in a deep pit (v. 14)

Don’t treat people differently because of their ‘net worth’ (vv. 16, 22, 23; see also James 2:2-4)

Be careful to whom you make financial  commitments (vv. 26, 27)

Don’t encroach on others’ space (v. 28) 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Setting Myself Up For Failure (Proverbs 20)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Wine is a mock, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1).

This collection of proverbs warns against things that impair a person’s judgment, or things that set us up for failure. Things like…

  • intemperance (v. 1)
  • making leaders angry (vv. 2, 8, 26)
  • starting petty quarrels (v. 3)
  • laziness (vv. 4, 13)
  • shallow thinking (vv. 5, 12, 25)
  • unfaithfulness or a lack of integrity (vv. 6, 7, 11, 27)
  • unconfessed sin (vv. 9, 24)
  • duplicity or favoritism (vv. 10, 14, 17, 23)
  • not valuing wisdom (vv. 15, 18. 25)
  • risky business deals (vv. 16, 25)
  • gossiping (v. 19)
  • dishonoring your parents (vv. 20, 21)
  • holding a grudge (v. 22)
  • unkindness or dishonesty (v. 28)
  • not valuing life (v. 29)
  • not allowing anyone to correct you (v. 30)

Now that you know these items that set you up for failure, ask the Holy Spirit to help you root any of these out of your life before failure happens to you! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—The Blessings Of Integrity (Proverbs 19)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…integrity… (Proverbs 19:1).

Integrity is wholeness—it brings its own blessings because a person of integrity…

  • …is wise (vv. 1, 8, 20, 27)
  • …doesn’t fall into the haste-makes-waste trap (v. 2)
  • …is at peace with God (v. 3)
  • …knows true friendship (vv. 4, 6, 7, 19)
  • …is never punished for lying (vv. 5, 9, 28, 29)
  • …gets promoted to leadership (v. 10)
  • …preserves relationships (vv. 11, 12, 13, 14, 25, 26)
  • …is satisfied with his work (vv. 15, 23, 24)
  • …guards his soul (v. 16)
  • …serves others without an agenda (v. 17)
  • …disciplines only in love (vv. 18, 25)
  • …walks in God’s ways (vv. 21, 23)
  • …is kind to others (v. 22)

“With integrity you can experience freedom. Not only are you less likely to be enslaved by the stress that comes from bad choices, debt, deceptiveness, and other negative character issues, but you are free to influence others and add value to them in an incredible way.” —John Maxwell

How true: Integrity = Freedom to live a satisfying life!

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