Why Does Character Matter?

Andy Andrews
Does adversity build character? . . . It does not. Almost all people can stand adversity of one sort or another. If you want to test a person’s character, give him power.

Power corrupts. Trust me on this. And because power corrupts, humanity’s need for those in power to be of high character increases as the importance of the position of leadership increases.

We are discussing character, correct? Not intelligence. Some of the most intelligent leaders in history have brought disaster to their nations because intelligence is powerless to modify character. Great leadership is a product of great character. And that is why character matters.

—Abraham Lincoln (as imagined by Andy Andrews in The Final Summit)

Excerpted from How to Kill 11 Million People. Copyright © 2011 by Andy Andrews. Published by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. This is very true. I see it played out in the corporate workplace every day. Thank you for this gentle reminder to be a humble leader. Like Jesus, full of grace, gentleness, and humility.


  2. I do agree that power does show your true character! It is so sad, because the ones with power so often abuse it because of their low or weak character. It would be so great if only wise, strong, faithful, honest people could have power, but I guess that would be heaven on earth, and that will never happen. I guess that what we all need to bring from this, is that we all need to use the bit of power that we have for good, righteous deeds. If we show our good character in the little things, constantly, then the big things will follow! If we held each other accountable for our deeds, our words and our actions, the world around us would be a better place.

  3. 2 years ago
    Terri says

    I have heard it said that if satan cannot get a person one way or another, he just gives him power, and watches him fall.

  4. 2 years ago
    Gerri Smith says

    I just read this book on Saturday. It really makes you think. It’s unfortunate that most people pick their leaders by what they say and not what the record shows they have done. Actions truly speak louder than words.

  5. This article is so timely with our country and many of our businesses today. Thanks for sharing the article to remind all of us that Character is what counts when we are leaders. May God continue to bless you folks.

  6. 2 years ago
    Mindy Gretty says

    Wow, so true and thought of so little.

  7. I am asking for prayer. I need a job close to home with a company that has good character. The employment scene is so evil. I am a christian and drawing unemployment. Pray for my son Jeffrey, he has bi polar and is 39 years old. The disease is getting worse. He is unemployed for a 1 year now and he really needs a job to pay his bills. My world is in a spiral all the time.

    Pray thank you

    • 2 years ago
      Mary A says

      Hopefully your son, is seeking and following medical/psychiatric help for his bipolar condition, which is an illness just as diabetes or high blood pressure is. Several years ago, at about age 60, I came to discover I was bipolar when I experienced a severe manic episode, couldn’t sleep or calm down for several days. Fortunately my case is mild BP and was significantly controlled fairly quickly with meds, not lithium. If he is more severe BP he will most likely have difficulty maintaining employment until it is under control which is very possible and probable with today’s medical advancements. Even if county or public medical care is the only option, I strongly suggest he/you pursue it, and any/all other assistance available until you are back on your feet once more. I also had to due to no job/no insurance situation. I will pray for you and your son Jeffrey for healing and financial security, always remember the Lord tells us to “Fear not” and the definition of FEAR is: False Evidence Appearing Real, also it’s always darkest before the dawn.
      Be strong and God Bless

  8. 2 years ago
    Dawn says

    This message is so on time for what is going on at work, not in my office but in another office. Sometimes people forget where they came from and sometimes they forget they are only as great as the team they lead. When power goes to a person’s head, those that they lead lose loyalty and respect. The team falls apart and it lands in the lap of the “Big Kahuna”.

  9. 2 years ago
    Annie Sinkewicz says

    Right on Mr. Andrews, if you want to test a person character give him power. Thanks very much for this article. Take care, and God Bless.

  10. Abraham Lincoln was a great model of great character in all three aspects of intelligence, power and adversity. In my opinion, you can also build character through adversity. Not everyone does, but you certainly can.
    Power may be the test that challenges what actually sticks!
    Thank you for sharing.

  11. 2 years ago
    DMG says

    What a profound truth! I believe adversity builds endurance and faith. I have experienced firsthand what the misuse of power and authority can do. If it had not been for God sustaining me through the difficult moments, I would have become part of the dysfunction. God bridled my tongue, calmed my fears and resolved the issue. Praise be to GOD!

  12. 2 years ago
    Eileen Lurvey says

    The reason I am commenting: my home group just completed a study on Ephesians Chap 1 and as a reference for hope as referred to in Eph 2:18 we discussed Romans 5:3: “We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope.” I was impressed with a need to memorize this Romans verse so I recalled that trouble (or adversity) was a route to character in this passage. So I questioned Andy’s take that adversity does not produce character. It seems correct that power definitely is a test of character in the way he describes, but it also seems correct to me that adversities mold our character to the extent that we rely on God and build our trust and wisdom through it. More thoughts?

  13. I would rarely disagree, but on this I do. Power I feel just shows the true character of a person, it is not what corrupts a human being. If one lives by faith he/she will not be corrupted by power. Great adversitiy however can build character. The faith of a person is tested in brokenness and surviving adversity is a building of faith and believes.

    • 2 years ago
      geraldine wong says

      I agree with your point of view.

    • 2 years ago
      Cheryl R says

      I have attended multiple Women of Faith events, read many daily devotions of theirs. I’m sure many of us have forwarded the passage/message to a friend in need. However, this one did make me realize how life circumstances can formulate a view such as, adversity does not build character. I question if the author ever had a five year old daughter not walk because of a missed diagnosis of lyme menijitis. I wonder if the author ever spent a year in a child’s cancer ward with their own 18 year old struggling through chemo and radiation. The privelege of walking through a desert experience like that with a loved one is just that, a privelege. God provides just enough through a personal battle with cancer. To see the small victories in each day, with each smile, and with every living moment is character building for all present and I believe those in prayer.

      The loss of an 18 year old dream to go to college with her friends, the daily loss of clumps of beautiful long blond silky hair from this prom queens head, the shutting down of a digestive system for eight days on an all state athlete are building blocks of opportunities to show your true character and love of Christ. The only POWER that was present in every moment of my daughters experience with cancer was GOD’s. He has the power to give and take away. He has to power to heal. He has the power to shine light in a dark place, and only that light can set us free.

      My daughters hunger to grow closer to God is because of her own life experience of living among many children cancer survivors, seeing God’s provision through the storms, and the hope of a better day through Christ. Her character was revealed, we are refined through our trials, and no earthly limited vanity of power was present, only God’s grace.

      So, I would be careful to make such short and sweet statements based on our own limited life experiences, but on the word of God as highlighted by Eileen, ” Romans 5:3.” Blessings and strength to all who are sharing.

      • Before you assume something it is always a good idea to check facts. Check this author’s story. Yes, he does know difficult situations.

    • 2 years ago
      Carla says

      I agree with you Celia. Thank you!