Proving Grounds

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Take a moment and engage with this quote:

The conduct of your daily life is the proving grounds of your true character and integrity.

A quote just like that was said during one of our church all-staff meetings recently. I wrote it down and have been revisiting this quote often. I thought today we would explore character and integrity. We normally speak about the Enneagram and leadership but this is applicable to people across all personalities, careers, beliefs, and stages of life, and leadership capacity. Let’s spend a few moments and talk about the “proving grounds” for our lives.

Proving Grounds = In or Out of the gym?

I mentioned in an earlier post (read it here) that I’ve been enjoying CrossFit for several weeks. My wife and I follow the national CrossFit website and do the WOD (workout of the day) every day together. We are loving it! But, let me ask you this: Is the gym really the proving grounds of your physical fitness?

You can exercise all you want but if what you do “outside” the gym doesn’t match the hard work you are racking up “inside” the gym, it’s pretty useless. You know what I’m getting at don’t you? If I do an intense CrossFit workout every single day and then head straight to the Cheesecake Factory and have a slice of cheesecake, it will all be for nothing (and I LOVE me some cheesecake). All of us spend more time outside the gym than inside, which is why what we do on the outside needs to complement what’s going on inside. The integrity of your workout is compromised if your diet and lifestyle doesn’t match the 30-60 minutes you put in the gym every day.

The only way to truly see results and to live your most healthy life is for your life outside the gym to be the same as the dedication you have to going to the gym each day. The truth is: what happens in your everyday life choices is the proving grounds for your physical fitness (diet, activity, laughing, no binge watching The Office on Netflix, etc.).

Proving Grounds in life…

Now think about your daily life; not just what everybody sees at work, school, etc. Think about the conduct of your everyday life. Does it match the integrity you “appear” to have when people are around. Like the gym, you can fool people into thinking you work hard then go home and veg out and eat poorly. Does your character stop with what people simply see when they interact with you? How deep is your character and integrity?

The real proving grounds for our life is what happens outside of those environments where people are watching closely. It’s what people don’t see that makes the difference. You may be kind and considerate to your co-workers but you treat your girlfriend poorly or you constantly speak negatively about people when nobody is around. Does the conduct of your daily life match the character you project onto those who are watching. People are always watching; not necessarily to see if you fall but because they see things in you that they want to mimic.

An Example

Here’s an example from my professional world. I’m a pastor at a local church. I preach often and lead teams of people. This means I’m in front of a lot of people on a regular basis. A main theme in all my preaching and leading is this: “Jesus gave us one command = Love one another as I have loved you. Therefore we should be loving those around us with the same love that Jesus has loved us with. It’s the same kind of love that led Him to die for those who follow Him.”

If I’m going to stand on a stage and encourage people to love with that kind of seemingly reckless love, I had better be sure the conduct of my daily life mimics that sentiment. The proving grounds for what I will teach from a stage is in the conduct of my daily life. Do I treat people with that same kind of love and respect?

The truth is, it’s really easy to fool people. We can captivate them during a presentation or for a short visit around their dinner table. For my own life, I want the character that people may see in public to match what they don’t see in private. What about you?

What do you want people to see? What do they see? Does what they “don’t” see match what they “do” see? How can you make all those answers the same?


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