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. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Lifelong Learning (Proverbs 30)

[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.]

Surely I am more stupid than any man… (Proverbs 30:2).

That’s what he said, and then Agur records some incredibly wise words for us! I think Agur is a man who is continually learning, and realizing how little he knew before he learned something new. 

He’s learning things like…

…how vast, and powerful, and wise God is (vv. 3-6).

…how frail and dependent on God he is (vv. 7-9). 

…how disrespectful people undermine their own success and happiness (vv. 10-14, 17).

…how destructive greed is (vv. 15, 16).

…how wonderfully God has made things (vv. 18, 19).

…how sin deceives (vv. 20-23). 

…how observing even the littlest of things can teach big lessons ( vv. 24-28).

…how boastful proud people are (vv. 29-33). 

What lessons are you learning? 

When was the last time you learned something new? 

13 Quotes From Others In “Developing The Leader Within You 2.0”

John Maxwell does an excellent job of including insightful words from other authors—past and present—in his books. Developing The Leader Within You 2.0 is no exception. Here are a few of the quotes he shared. 

“There have been meetings of only a moment which have left impressions for life, for eternity. No one of us can understand that mysterious thing we call influence… Yet out of everyone of us continually virtual goes, either to heal, to bless, to leave marks of beauty; or to wound, to hurt, to poison, to stain other lives.” — J.R. Miller 

“The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” — William James 

“A man of character will make himself worthy of any position he is given.” —Mahatma Gandhi 

“Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them, day after day.” —Arthur Gordon 

“We set young leaders up for a fall if we encourage them to envision what they can do before they consider the kind of person they should be.” —Ruth Haley Barton 

“What we achieve inwardly will change outward reality.” — Plutarch 

“Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.” — David Brooks 

“Our world has replaced the word soul with the word self, and they are not the same thing. The more we focus on our selves, the more we neglect our souls.” — John Ortberg 

“The most effective leaders approach problems through a lens of opportunity.” —Glenn Llopis 

“Face reality, and let your first loss become your last loss.” —Larry Maxwell 

“If we learn to appreciate more of what we already have, we’ll find ourselves having even more to appreciate.” —Michael Angier 

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for someone else.” —Benjamin Franklin 

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” —Martin Luther King Jr 

You can check out my full book review of Developing The Leader Within You 2.0 by clicking here. And you can also read some John Maxwell quotes from this book here. 

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! 

Success From Failure

People are rarely successful the first time they try something. In fact, Thomas Edison once quipped, “I’ve had a lot of success with failure.” 

And you’ve probably heard the tried-and-true cliché—If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. 

Here are five attitude-adjusting thoughts and one key question about failure and success from John Maxwell: 

  1. Failure is an attitude, not just an outcome.
  2. Success comes by going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
  3. Failure isn’t failure unless you learn nothing from it.
  4. Failure is an opportunity to begin again, but more intelligently.
  5. Failure never leaves us the same: I’m either leaving the failure and giving excuses, or I’m learning from the failure and I’m growing. 

John then asks: “The key question on your bad day is: Are you going to give up or get up?” 

What are you going to do with failure?

If you want to read more, check out John Maxwell’s book Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, or some other Maxwell quotes here.

Defy The Experts

Later war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer. That was the time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai of the clan of giants. The Philistines had to eat crow. 

In another war with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath the Gittite whose spear was like a ship’s boom. 

And then there was the war at Gath that featured a hulking giant who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six on each hand and foot—yet another from the clan of giants. When he mocked Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. 

These came from the clan of giants and were killed by David and his men. (1 Chronicles 20:4-8) 

All the experts said that it was humanly impossible for a human to run a mile in less than four minutes. They looked at all the data and concluded it just couldn’t be done. 

But in 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3:59.4. 

Since that time, over 1400 runners have been inspired by Bannister’s success and have also broken the “unbreakable” barrier of a 4-minute mile. 

Before David faced the giant Goliath, the experts were probably all in agreement: giants just can’t be killed by normal-sized humans. 

But David killed Goliath. And then, inspired by his success in doing the “impossible,” David’s fellow warriors began chopping down giants too!

What’s holding you back? What have you or other so-called experts declared “impossible” or “unbreakable” or “undoable”? 

If God is calling you to take on the giant, DO IT! 

Defy the so-called experts. Do the “impossible.” Don’t let what others say is un-doable hold you back from victory! 

11 Quotes From “The Last Arrow”

Erwin McManus will get you fired up to make the most of the life God has given you! Check out my full review of The Last Arrow by clicking here. 

“I do not believe anyone is born average, but I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity. I think there are more of us than not who are in danger of disappearing into the abyss of the ordinary. The great tragedy in this, of course, is that there is nothing really ordinary about us. We might not be convinced of this, but our souls already know it’s true, which is why we find ourselves tormented when we choose lives beneath our capacities and callings.” 

“Here is the painful reality: we will find ourselves defined by the average if we do not choose to defy the odds. … We can refuse to be average. We must refuse to be average. We must war against the temptation to settle for less. Average is always a safe choice, and it is the most dangerous choice we can make. Average protects us from the risk of failure, and it also separates us from futures of greatness.” 

“Most of us underestimate how much God actually wants to do in our lives and through our lives.” 

“I wonder how many victories are lost before the battle has even begun. I wonder how much more good God desires to usher into the world that has been thwarted by our own lack of ambition.” 

“If one day we are to have a conversation with God about the measure of our lives, I would rather have Him ask me why I tried to do too much than to have Him ask me why I settled for so little.” 

“Many of us keep longing for a new future while holding on to the past. We desperately want God to create something new for us, but we refused to let Him tear away all the old from us.” 

“The tragedy of a life that is never fully lived is not solely the loss of that one life. The tragedy is the endless number of lives that would have been forever changed if we had chosen to live differently.” 

“We do not help the world by choosing to be less or to do less; we help the world by choosing to be more and give more.” 

“Be ready when you get there. Don’t make the mistake of living your life waiting for good things to happen—make good things happen. Be faithful in the small things that do not matter to you as much and treat them with the same level of respect and importance as the big things connected to your hopes and dreams.” 

“The great tragedy would be to live your life waiting for that moment to come instead of living your life preparing for when that moment comes.” 

“If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer.” 

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