The development of one’s virtue and character is not a destination to arrive at, but an ongoing process never truly completed. Early Greek philosophers saw character central to a life of moral conduct (Sarros et al., 2006, 683). For leaders, the development of one’s character is to have an inclination to act, think, or feel in a particular way (Fedler, 2006) in search of moral excellence (Hendrix et al., 2004, p. 60). This inclination is not necessarily innate, and with man’s fallen nature as a backdrop of human development, character development takes work and intentionality over time. It is not something that is enduring and stable within a person the way a personality trait is, but it is something learned and developed through the course of life (Sarros et al., p. 683). Peterson and Seligman (2004) insist building character is a form of moral development that improves with age and with years of cultivation (p. 3). Martin Luther King’s words indicated greatness resides in a person’s character (Sarros, p. 683) and serve as the bedrock of the human condition (Peterson and Seligman, 2004, p. 3)
Christians may describe virtuous living and character development as the process of sanctification. Sanctification is making one holy (Barrick, 2010, p. 179), or making one virtuous. John 17:17 instructs that sanctification come from truth, and truth comes from the Lord’s word. However, one is never fully sanctified on this side of heaven, meaning one is never truly free from original sin in such a way that sinless perfection is achieved (Dunning, 2013, p. 46) Rather, sanctification is the process of being filled with the spirit and delivered from the mind set on the fleshly desires while still remaining fallible creatures in a fallen body (Dunning, 2013, p. 46). The pursuit doesn’t end in this life.
Barlow, C. B., & Luedtke, C. J. (2004). Hendrix, W.H., Barlow, C. B., & Luedtke, C. J. (2004). Multimethod approach for measuring changes in character. Journal of Research in Character Education, 2(1), 59-80. Journal of Research in Character Education, vol. 2(iss. 1), 59–80.
Barrick, W. D. (2010). Sanctification: the work of the Holy Spirit and scripture. Master’s Seminary Journal, 21(2), 179–191.
Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: study Bible: English standard version (ESV text ed). Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles.
Dunning, H. R. (2013). Sanctification and purity. Wesleyan Theological Journal, 48(2), 44–59.
Fedler, K. D. (2006). Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.
James C. Sarros, Brian K. Cooper, & Anne M. Hartican. (2006). Leadership and character. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 27(8), 682–699.
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (1 edition). Washington, DC : New York: American Psychological Association / Oxford University Press.