by Gene Wilkes
Here are some ideas to help your small group, discipleship class, or book club study and apply lessons from Character: The Pulse of a Disciple’s Heart. You may also find the “A Challenge for Our Day” questions at the end of each chapter useful to facilitate discussion.
1. Character is an often discussed issue in our society, but we usually only talk about character in relation moral failure. When have you discussed the topic of character before? What led you to read this book on character now?
2. How would you define character? Norman Blackaby and I describe character as “the quality of our intimate fellowship with God” that demonstrates itself in our actions and choices. How is this description different from yours? How is it similar?
3. The first part of the book is labeled “How God Develops Character.” Which of the character case studies in this section helped you best understand how God develops character in His people?
4. Since Jesus is our model, leader, and source for godly character, share 2 actions/concepts from chapter 10, “Jesus and the Disciples: Growing Pains,” that you can apply to your life.
5. The second group of character case studies describes “Character That Makes a Difference.” Who in that group of biblical characters most impacted you?
6. Many people are unfamiliar with the unnamed servant girl in the story of Elisha and Naaman (found in chapter 12). How did that seemingly insignificant person exhibit character that made a difference? How can she be an example to you as you live your life for God?
7. What are some ways you can keep your “intimate fellowship with God” fresh and vital? Who of the biblical characters taught you most about maintaining and growing a vibrant, maturing relationship with God?
God invites us to pray for each other and to encourage others in their relationship with God, the basis of character.
Open your group prayer time by taking any character-related prayer requests. Then pray for each other.
In addition, pray for your spouse, children, coworkers, fellow Christians and church members, and church leaders. Pray that they will draw close to God (or trust Him for the first time). Intercede on their behalf, asking God to keep them close and help them make God-honoring choices. Ask that they would live out the character of God toward others. List their names and how you can pray for them (include any specific situations).
Live It Out
1. We believe God can make a difference through you. What are some ways you have heard the Holy Spirit prompt you to make a difference in the lives of those around you? Humbly share one or two of those ideas with your group and ask them to keep you accountable to what God has led you to do.
2. We cannot develop our character on our own. Who do you have in your life who can aid you in your God-centered character development? Who can you encourage and walk alongside in order to help them grow in their relationship with God? What a blessing to see your character and their character begin to look more like His.
- Is there an older or more mature Christian you admire that you can ask to guide you as you grow in your character development? Reach out to that person and see if he or she is willing to disciple you.
- Are there young people already in your life (children, grandchildren, nieces/nephews, neighbors) that you can mentor to develop Christ-like character?
- Can you reach out to other young people in your community in need of Christ and Christian mentors?
Author Gene Wilkes has been senior pastor of Legacy Church in Plano, Texas, for more than 20 years. He is a resident fellow with B. H. Carroll Theological Institute in the areas of church leadership and New Testament studies.
A free download of Character by Norman Blackaby and Gene Wilkes, chapter 1, is available here.
Listen to podcasts with Norman Blackaby and Gene Wilkes on character. (Search by first name.)
You may also be interested in “The Need for Character in the Face of Opposition and Conflict” by Gene Wilkes.