Character Matters 05 The Golden Rule

Jesus said very clearly that whatever you want people to do to you, you should do also to them (Matthew 7.12). The Passion Translation reads: be careful to treat others in the same way you’d want them to treat you.

That is a standard of character that we all should be keeping to as an absolute minimum. The Nigerians have a proverb: before you stab a bird with a stick, stab yourself, then you will know how it feels to be stabbed with that stick. Godly character involves thinking about how your actions and behaviour as a leader affects other people and their feelings.

We have had to deal with a leader recently who was talking about other leaders behind their back, that was someone who did not consider what it would feel like to have the stick in themselves at all. Even the most basic level of forethought would have made them realize that it is very unpleasant to have people you thought you trusted talk about you behind their back. That person showed a true lack of character.

Character involves thinking about how your actions affect others by considering how you would feel if you were in the same position. As Christian leaders, we need to think about these things and consider others. That is part of being a loving leader. And it is an easy way to consider your actions. You ask yourself before doing something: would I want to be treated that way? We all want to be treated well, so it is an easy way to understand what is the right thing to do in a situation.

There was a pastor who treated me very badly once. They told some people I was a poor man with a small church and not worthy of respect, they lied about me and treated me bad. They thought because our church income was less than ours they could treat me badly. Now, over the years, Tree of Life has grown considerably, and we are larger and much richer than he is. So, I treat him with respect and kindness. I am not treating him how he treated me, that is not character. I am treating him how I would want to be treated. That is what I am talking about.

We often treat people badly because they are not like us, don’t agree with us, or are different from us. That is not the standard people set. You do not treat people according to their income, their talent, their background, their lifestyle. We treat people one way – the way WE WANT TO BE TREATED.

A new person comes to your church? Treat them the way we want to be treated. Have to stand down an elder because of immorality? Stand them down the way you would want to be stood down, with dignity and kindness. Teaching someone a doctrine they are just not getting? Teach them the way you would want to be taught. Having an argument with your wife? Argue the way you would want to be argued with. This principle in Matthew 7.12 can bring you to a place of expressing character in any situation.

You see a lot of people think doing the right thing is hard, it’s not – you do not have to study philosophy, read the whole Bible, pray in tongues for hours – you just have to think – how would I want to be treated if I was in this situation, and treat the other person the same way.

As a leader sometimes you do not know where to go next – well, this is like north. You can always use this principle as a compass to find out what to do next.

Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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