There is a major difference between charisma and character. While charisma may seem like affluence, charm and having an “anointing” or energetic personality, it is often mistaken as a character trait.
So what is the difference? How can you discern between what is based upon character and what is just some hyped up charisma?
1) Anointing does not increase with volume. This means that the louder or more intense sounding a message is, does not instill it with more truth, more of God’s presence or more accuracy. It might be told in a charismatic manner but the method of delivery must remain separate from the content to accurately discern its validity or error.
2) Someone with a lot of charisma usually requires attention and recognition. When charisma is present but there is a lack of character, the charismatic person must feed off of the praise of others to feel important. The person of character is content to live behind the scenes and be effective without being noticed by others. Character is the substance of the person, charisma is the magnetic appeal or draw of a message.
*Please note that there are those who speak or minister that have tremendous character and can communicate with charisma as well. Having charisma in their presentation or delivery doesn’t necessarily disqualify them as being void of character. However, the point I am making is that all too often being charismatic, for some, replaces the need to have character or teach content that is based on truth. Some hold to the error of : “As long as it sounds true, it must be.”
Dictionary.com states that one of the definitions of charisma is:
“a spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people.”
A casual study of the most renown world leaders and speakers throughout history will no doubt reveal a list of charismatic, moving orators who could sway masses with the smallest thing said. From Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech to the Gettysburg Address to even the Preamble of our US constitution demonstrates some pieces of American history that have moved millions with their charismatic and heart gripping words.
The caution I would give is simply this:
Don’t let how moving something sounds, how ear-tickling its delivery is or how much emotional effect it evokes when heard cloud or color the content of the message and the character of the one delivering it. Hitler was a charismatic orator who could move millions when he spoke and many, many “Christians” completely backed and supported him. When you hear a message, a speech, a sermon, a radio broadcast, a tv interview, etc, don’t turn off your discernment filter. Get past the charismatic delivery and really look at the content of the message and the character of the one who is speaking. We cannot afford to become callous or numb and fail to guard our hearts diligently as wisdom commands us to. (“Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of life’s consequences.” Prov. 4:23)
So what are the qualities of character? How can that be seen through the lens of charisma? A person of character possesses the following:
Deeds/actions that are pure and right
Evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in words and actions (Galatians 5:22)
One who searches Scripture to see if something is true (Acts 17:11)
Those with clean hands and pure hearts, who don’t make vanities the purpose of their lives or swear oaths just to deceive. (Ps 24:4-6)
Those whose word can be trusted (1 Tim 3:8)
When one does not operate with character, they must put on the cloak of charisma to be liked, upheld and regarded as one of importance. Charisma can easily be a cover for a lack of character. That’s why it must be closely examined to determine which is the foundation of the person.
How does one lose their character?
1 Corinthians 15:33 CJB
Don’t be fooled. “Bad company ruins good character.”
What builds character?
Proverbs 27:17 CJB
Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.
Romans 5:4 CJB
“…endurance produces character, and character produces hope;”
Ephesians 3:14, 15
“…For this reason, I fall on my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its character.”
Let us seek to be those whose reputation, worthiness and honor is based upon the character of our lives, not the charisma of our words.
Blessings to you as you continue to seek the will of our heavenly Father!