Feb 2007 Character Quality -- Flexibility
the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
“What’s on the schedule today?”  Sally asked her mother one day as they finished breakfast.
“We want to finish fertilizing the garden this morning.  We are invited to the Smith’s for lunch.
Your father and I are going to hold that meeting at church this evening and you have music
practice at 6 pm.  Oh, and Aunt Mary called and wants to know if you can help her with some
things.  That’s about it.”  
Then the phone rang, and her mother said, “That was the doctor.  Your father has had a car
accident on the way to work.  It sounds major.  We need to cancel everything but the garden.  
Can you take care of that alone?”  Sally’s brow puckered before she spoke.  “Do we have to
cancel everything?”  Her mother replied, “Sally, we have to be flexible when life throws kinks in
our plans.  The only way out of problems is through them.  We can only handle this if we bend
our plans a little.”

Flexibility is the willingness to change initial plans or ideas without getting upset.  The best laid
plans of mice and men get changed. When this happens, we have two choices:  resist and fail or
submit and thrive.  God told Abraham, “Get out of your house and your father’s land and go…”  
Abraham had no idea where he was going, yet he rose and went because he understood what
flexibility is.  As he obeyed, he thrived, and ultimately became the father of Israel.  

What are some ways of gaining this important quality?  First, we must realize that change is
inevitable – whether or not we like it.  Change can trigger fear and a certain amount of anxiety.  
To prepare for change, we need to make wise plans for where we are now and define the
purposes behind the goals.  When change occurs, we need to adjust our plans – mentally and
physically.  A wise person can change course without changing destinations.  In every situation
that requires change, we tend to look only at the bad effects.  However, when we look for the
benefits of change, we will see new opportunities, discover new ways of doing things, and find a
larger purpose. Instead of blaming our authorities for “throwing kinks in the works,” we need to
trust the outcome to God and try to make it work.  When we make our authorities successful, we
become successful.  Finally, tackle the new opportunity with renewed fervor.  Enthusiastically
work at the job until it is completely finished.  Any job worth doing is work doing well.  

Flexibility is not compromise.  As times change, so do customs.  However, we should never
abandon our principles to go along with the newest ideas.  Honesty, integrity, kindness, and
righteousness are never out of style and should never be “flexible.”  As we are willing to change
our ideas and desires to benefit others, we show love for our neighbor.
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! material.  For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact:  Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK  73102,  (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at
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