How can you tell if someone’s a good or bad person? I’m (John Lovell) not talking necessarily about the Spidey senses that help you avoid immediate danger, but rather the kind of markers of the type of person who, if you make them a confidante, might cause you trouble months or years down the road. How can you tell a person of character from a con artist or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
I've learned over the years to cut through all the crap and to sidestep those kinds of problematic people.
Unfortunately, it does take time to learn how to begin quickly picking up on whether somebody is a person worth trusting and investing in, but hope these three markers will help speed up your powers of observation and evaluation when it comes to a person’s character:
Character Marker #1: Are They Courageous?
"It's day by day. You build on the courage. As you face what scares you, you'll have a little more courage today than you had yesterday and a little more courage tomorrow than you had today." —Former Army Ranger Jeff Struecker
A truly courageous person is courageous in all areas of life. This doesn't mean they're not ever afraid, but it does mean that they've made the moral effort, developed the moral and mental muscle, to face down fears and do the right thing. A courageous person is ready to take risks, do daring things, and engage in hard stuff when it really matters.
They're not living a life of comfort for the sake of comfort, because they realize that their job is to boldly step out in life to be good protectors and providers. They're putting in the work to be and become good men--men who aren't afraid to say hard things, speaking the truth in love.
They refuse to live by lies.
It is up to us today to take up this challenge, to live not by lies and to speak the truth that defeats evil. How do we do this in a society built on lies? By accepting a life outside the mainstream, courageously defending the truth, and being willing to endure the consequences. —Rod Dreher, Live Not By Lies
Courageous people are people of principle, and this makes them as bold as lions. If the righteous are as bold as lions, then it logically follows that if you are not as bold as a lion, you are not righteous. Translation? You can't possibly be good if you are a coward. Good people are courageous people.
Character Marker #2: Do They Show Humility?
Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less. —C.S. Lewis
Humility is at the very center of moral strength, and even at the core of a courageous person. It takes humility to risk one's life for a meaningful purpose--a purpose that supersedes self interest.
It's also at the core of what it means to be a good friend. Jesus spoke about this and lived it: "There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13).
A truly humble person:
- says they're sorry when they screw up
- is able to laugh at themselves
- serves other people
- has a correct measure of themselves
We've all screwed up, we're all fatally flawed, we're all on a journey, and, at times, we all suck. The humble person realizes this and is actively on the path to becoming a better version of themselves.
A humble person realizes from their mistakes and seeks to learn from them. They understand they'll make plenty more mistakes in the future, and when they do they are quick to own up to them and take a corrective path.
You can refuse to do this for a little while, but ultimately all of your friendships and your family will die if you give in to pride. Humility, on the other hand, is life-giving to relationships and will allow you and those around you to flourish.
Character Marker #3: How Do They Treat Their Family?
"Your kids don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” —Jim Henson
If I want to know what kind of a person someone is, I listen to what they say about their wife and kids. How and how much they talk about their family is a tell-tale sign of where their priorities lie. So if they talk about their hobbies and sports teams but never about their wife, I begin to suspect a problem.
And if I ever see them together, how do they relate to their wife? Do their children seem to talk to them or is there a disconnect?
If the kids don't want to talk to them and there's no connection to their wife, that's a problem. But if there's mutual respect and there's chemistry in the marriage, that's a good sign you're dealing with a person of integrity.
They're best friends and they've got some fire there. The kids hold dad in honor and they're having fun, and it's a peaceful, flourishing family. If I see a flourishing family, I need almost no other data. I can say, "Ah, that's a good man. That's a good father."
Those are the people that are worthy of trust and the people that I admire the most and the people I respect the most.
Train hard. Train smart. Live with Integrity. Love your families.