Carter’s Character

95 years old. Double cancer survivor. Faithful Sunday School teacher. Long history of public service, both military and civic. Navy veteran and Annapolis graduate. Fell and blackened an eye, required stitches, and yet he showed up to work on building a house for someone trying to make a better life. Jimmy Carter is a man worthy of admiration and imitation.

Image from Associated Press

I was so impressed by this recent news story:

How easy it would have been to have excused himself from showing up, but he took the more demanding path. How easy it would have been to have retired from public life and service long ago, but his character dictates that he continues to serve others. How easy it would have been to have left the presidency and gone back to farming, but he sold his farm and put the money in a blind trust when he entered the highest office in the land so that he would not be hindered by self-interest.

Carter had a tumultuous term as president. The politics of the office and what we now call ‘The Swamp’ were hard on a man who was criticized for ‘lusting after other women in his heart.’ Carter was so simple and straight-forward that he got run over somewhat by the pressures of the office. The economy wasn’t good and interest rates were sky-high. The USA was still reeling from the effects of Watergate and the Nixon Presidency. There were so many hurts on every side. He was a Southerner, which made some think him naive. He had a hard few years, as did the rest of the country. He left the office probably glad to return to Plains, GA, and the plainer life it afforded.

But as I have said before, Carter is the best ex-president we have ever had. No one after leaving the highest office in the land has shown so much character and commitment to the public good as Carter.

He was involved at the highest levels to bring reconciliation and peace to violent and war-torn areas. He had an ability to assist in conversations that would be difficult and tense. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor well-deserved for his efforts.

He became involved in building Habitat for Humanity houses all across the country. He and Rosalyn would put on a tool belt and swing a hammer and saw boards to bring about a better life for folks. He has worked on many of these projects in several states.

He has continued to teach a Sunday School class in the church he attended faithfully for decades. People from all over the country would flock to the small church in Plains to hear this man for whom the Bible was a living word and not just a book of rules and regulations.

He has offered his own views on current circumstances. He knows what it is to sit behind that desk and make the decisions that will affect others. He is one of a very few who have the experience that gives his counsel credible authority.

And he did all of this with a gentle manner that is all too rare. Carter is firm in his faith, his convictions, and his character—that much cannot be doubted. But he is also able to speak to situations and people with a sense of dignity. He has sat with the both the powerful and the poor. He has chatted with royalty and rural farmers. He measures his words wisely and speaks from a place of incredible experiences and intense compassion. He welcomes people of all faiths and races to his Sunday School class.

In the days since he left office, we have seen a continual stream of political scandals. People from all sides have fallen prey to the shadier side of The Swamp. People have been caught in lies and cover-ups. People have been accused of abusing their powers and taking advantage of their positions to line their own pockets and further their own self-interests. People have done all manner of deeds to serve and protect themselves more than to defend the Constitution and the American public.

Amidst all the problems and pains of the world today, I am heartened to see an elder statesman, a true public servant, a faithful husband, an honest businessman, a fighter and survivor, who could mail it in, yet he shows up again and again! He reminds us that character is a life-long trait. Character is reinforced by repeating selfless actions that benefit others. Character is the public expression of what is contained within. Character is showing up ready and eager to help. Jimmy Carter has character—tons of it! And this latest display just makes me admire that more and more. I point to his example and advise us all to follow it. He has revealed his character and commitment to service in so many ways through the years. I will close with Carter’s own words which were on display with a picture of him on social media, bruised and bandaged and yet still doing all he could for humanity:

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can, with whatever I have to try to make a difference.” ― Jimmy Carter

Image from Associated Press

2 thoughts on “Carter’s Character

  1. I had the privilege of shaking President Carter’s hand when he arrived at Koinonia Farms (the birthplace of Habitat) for the funeral of founder Florence Jordan. Whenever I become enraged at swamps of my own, I bring to mind an image of his infectious smile.

    In simple terms, he has made and is making the world a better place.


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