South Africa Journal 2: Never Mind My Luggage; Has Anyone Seen My Character?

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There’s an expression that says, “Character is what you reveal when you think nobody is watching.”

Scott’s corollary to this is that “Character is particularly revealed when you are traveling.”

I have seen airport security lines, Customs and Immigration queues, and waits at baggage carousels reveal some of the most self-centred, boorish and obnoxious behavior known to human-kind.

And I’m not above finding the worst aspects of my own character bubble to the surface when I travel.

Today I’m en route from my home in Kelowna, BC, via London, England, to Johannesburg, South Africa. There I’ll be joined by four Canadian pastors and our hosts from World Vision. My friends at World Vision will be guiding us through the work they are doing in some of the most desperately needy regions of this beautiful country.

Total travel time will be over 30 hours, 21 hours in the air. That’s plenty of time for the basest parts of my character to emerge. I know myself well enough to envision my own impatience spilling out in the form of sarcasm, glaring looks, even an audible “This is ridiculous!” as an interminably slow line crawl along. I can even imagine myself muttering, “Don’t these people understand that I’m trying to get to a part of the world where I can be the hands and feet of Jesus?! Let’s MOVE IT people!”

May God grant me the grace to realize that perhaps those for whom He wants me to be his hands and feet are right here in this slow moving airport line. Perhaps the blessing I am to be is to the scowling agent at the counter; the one who has received nothing but abuse from unruly passengers all day.

Less than a century ago this journey would have taken 6 months to a year to complete. Now, I’ll be at my destination in mere hours. May I be less concerned that my luggage has survived intact, and more focused on seeing my character survive the journey.

In what circumstances do you find your character is put to the test?

How do you ensure your character passes these tests?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. for me it’s not when i’m going somewhere, but rather, my character gets most tested when i’m going nowhere, a.k.a., waiting.

    when nothing is moving, when i wake up to the same set of circumstances day after day after day, when i am routinely assaulted by sameness, that is when my character flaws tend to come oozing out, and it’s nowhere near pretty!

    without accountability, and times to extract myself from others to examine my heart with God’s light, the situation can get downright ugly fast!

  2. Suzi, great insights. Isn’t it true that sometimes God is asking us to ‘be still’, when all we want to do is to get going…fast! May we have the discernment to know when He is asking us to simply ‘chill’ for a while.

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