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11/13/2005 - Character counts, chief justice writes

Character counts, chief justice writes

John A. Kline, Special to the Advertiser

 

I really liked this book by Drayton Nabers Jr. -- so much so I could scarcely put it down.

 

Nabers, the chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court, draws from his extensive governmental, business and leadership experience to demonstrate the character development necessary for success today. And though he does it brilliantly, you don't have to be brilliant to read the book. Clear style and expression make this book a comfortable read.

 

The book discusses topics crucial to a character-based ethic, but not abstractly. On the contrary, the book is filled with engaging anecdotes, entertaining human interest stories and sound biblical references that both hold the reader's attention and firmly communicate truth.

 

This book does what the title promises -- develops a case for character from a biblical perspective. Nabers' thesis is compelling for anyone who struggles to balance concern for works and character with the doctrine of grace. Nabers contends godly character and God's grace work together for "grace works through character, which we, in grace, have a responsibly to develop."

 

The first part of the book explores the foundation of character. Character counts because the habits or virtues engraved in us determine the quality of fruit we bear. Yet we don't have strong character through our own efforts, but through God's grace, which enables us to live by his rules and fulfill his ultimate purpose through us.

 

The second part of the book treats eight key virtues as essential character qualities -- four cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage, self-control and justice; and four theological virtues: faith, hope, love and humility.

 

While each chapter is a solid stand-alone essay, the chapter on faith may be the most engaging and most supportive of his thesis on how grace works through character development. Nabers says faith that "connects the humble heart with the grace of God" shows itself three ways: belief in Christ for salvation, trust in God whom the Bible reveals, and action committed to the glory of God.

 

In the third part of the book, Nabers discusses character in the real world contexts of government, business and leadership -- three areas in which he has excelled. But he concludes by saying that crisis in character cannot be approached from the top-down. It cannot be imposed, but "must come one by one, from the inside out" as we individually assume responsibility to develop character as empowered by God's grace. Families, churches and schools can influence that development, but it requires God's grace for it to happen.

Nabers' book is well-written and easy to comprehend And unlike most character development books, this one has both an enlightened biblical perspective and a sound philosophical framework.

 

John A. Kline is director of the Institute for Leadership Development at Troy University.

 

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