At first introduction, the question that pierces the conversation is, ‘Who are you?’ We would be impolite to ask that directly, so we often seek to answer it with other questions that provide answers about the person’s history, hobbies, and job. Would we find a more accurate answer if we looked more at character and convictions and less at class and career? While society commends character as the highest aspect of humanity, rarely is it the primary form of measurement. Because of their role, pastors (and church leaders) should primarily act as models of godliness.
Written for pastors, Character Matters offers an evaluation of character. Pastor Aaron Menikoff, the author of this book, maintains a heart for encouraging pastors. Therefore, he writes this book with the intention of pouring into the lives of pastors, demonstrating how the fruit of the spirit defines who they are so that they may shepherd God’s people better. Each chapter takes one characteristic of the fruit of the spirit offered in Galatians 5:22 and expounds on it profoundly. Most chapters follow a basic format of discussing the significance of the characteristic, showing its relevance to pastoral ministry, and ending with some practical suggestions.
Perhaps the most significant difficulty is that the author sometimes leaves common questions unanswered. To alleviate this, clearer and more profound definitions would be helpful (note: he does provide some definitions and definitely describes each characteristic; my suggestion is to include definitions for each and more extensive ones). Doing so would bring a level of preciseness to each aspect.
Such a preference hardly takes away from the value of this book. The author does well at explaining each aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. He does so theologically, evaluating each attribute in light of God’s character. In doing so, he exposes the depth of each piece that we often easily miss in our rapid reading of this list.
Menikoff pours a lot of information into a small amount of space. Reading a chapter per week is not unreasonable, but I would recommend not advancing faster than that. One needs to meditate upon the material, reading Scripture alongside while performing a self-evaluation. By the work of the Spirit, this book brings clarity and compels heart transformation that drives us towards Christlikeness.
There are several books about character, each offering value in its own right. For the general person, I would likely direct them towards some of those other books first (such as the disciplines series by Kent & Barbara Hughes). However, this one is not only an excellent follow-up to those but is unique because it is directed explicitly towards pastors. That alone sets it apart from others.
Coffee Pairing: Every good book deserves to be paired with a good cup of coffee (or tea). Every week, I attempt to match the book being reviewed with a complementary coffee or tea. Character Matters pairs well with Starbucks Kenya Blend, a cup that invites you to ponder its fruity undertones while meditating upon the fruit of the spirit.
To learn more about this book or other related books, see the following titles:
Character Matters by Aaron Menikoff
Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes
Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
The Measure of a Man by Gene Getz
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or any other person associated with the book.