Recently I asked the question “What is one characteristic of a good man?” Over 40 men and women responded with answers that ranged from thought-provoking to funny—“selfless” to “enjoys being clean.” All the answers spoke to character traits and I realized that sometimes it takes seeing a good man in action to really drive home the value of those traits.
This last week, I’ve watched three good men I know face painful, difficult circumstances. One man, after months of supporting his wife at her dying mother’s bedside, must now stand beside her in grief and loss. The second man is dealing with his wife’s unexpected cancer diagnosis two weeks ago, surgery last week, and complications after surgery this week. The third man will be burying his second son this week—the second of three children to die from an accident.
I cannot begin to imagine the deep emotions these men are facing. But I know with certainty they will exhibit many of the traits the respondents listed. I have already seen these men show integrity, reliability, commitment, devotion, accountability, and humility. These traits have been part of their lives for a very long time, and I have confidence they won’t disappear now.
The Greek philosopher Plutarch said “Character is long-standing habit.” Last week I realized once again that the term “a good man” isn’t something earned overnight. You don’t see a man do one thing and christen him with the title “Good Man.” Good men have decided to consistently live a life of integrity and honesty, to make choices based on a strong set of self-chosen values, and to stand firm to those values through difficult circumstances. Good men don’t look for an escape route when things get tough because they’ve spent their lives developing the traits that will guide them through fear, pain, and loss.
As friends of these three men, my husband and I are devastated by their losses and the pain their families are enduring. But there is comfort knowing a good man stands at the center of these three families, a man who is true to himself and humble before his God. There is solace in knowing that his traits of honesty, integrity, commitment, and humility will help guide decisions and forge a path through the darkness of today’s present circumstances.