5 Traits of A Successful Christian

I know that the title of this post might sound a little like a trite self improvement book. My intention was not to add to this already crowded genre.  My motives were simple: I just wanted to make a list of 5 characteristics that I believed made the ideal Christian.

So here are the 5 traits:

1) A Christian must have a daily and personal relationship with Jesus. This is the most important and fundamental step. Without dedicating daily time, to prayer, to reading the bible, to studying the teachings of the church, and frequenting the sacraments one can't be called a follower of Christ.

2) A Christian must be a person of peace.  Being peaceful is one of key characteristics that we use to describe a saint. Most people would describe St. John Paul II  or St. Theresa of Calcutta as people of peace. Peace isn't just a passing feeling of well being. Peace is the supernatural state which is given by God to a soul that places it's entire trust in him.

3) A Christian must be competent in their professional life. Work is very much part of this life. To work is to live. Unfortunately too many Christians have this faulty mindset that it's OK to do mediocre work as long as they spend their free time praying, going to church and doing other charitable deeds. Nothing could be further from the truth. The true Christian must remember that any work done for God should be done excellently. Being competent will eventually draw others to Christ.

4)A Christian must be an eternal optimist. True optimism is the fruit of hope. A true Christian is optimistic because they know that they are loved by God.  This love doesn't always make sense and doesn't guarantee that things will be easy. (Just think of Jesus' terrible death, death of a child etc) The Christian will cry, get angry, just like anyone else. The vital difference is that a mature Christian will remain inwardly optimistic where others would be tempted to give up or to despair.  To a Christian Jesus conquered the greatest of evils, death, through his resurrection.  A Christian can rejoice as St. Paul did when he declared, "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" (1 Cor 15:55) 

5) A Christian must be a person of love. Love is the defining characteristic of a Christian. St. Paul speaks eloquently on love as he writes immortally, "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13) Love is God's greatest attribute greater even than faith and hope.  It is important to understand that love is not a feeling. True Christian love doesn't resemble anything like the type you see in hackneyed Hollywood movies.  True love is an act of the will; going oftentimes going against our human inclinations. The perfect example of this radical love was when Jesus forgave those who were torturing and killing him.(cf Luke 23:24) Jesus gave us the perfect model for true love; loving to the point of sacrificial death. I believe that St. Thomas Aquinas aptly described love as "to will the good of the other."  True love is always sacrificial, wanting the best for the other. Jesus is the perfect model of this self sacrificing love.


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