Mission through the Book
I believe Uncommon Character is unlike any other book in respect to its focus on unfamiliar heroes and little-known situations. I don’t intend that statement to be immodest. Most of the other books focusing on heroes only offer a couple of pages on each protagonist (in addition to them being already well-known personalities). For my own enjoyment, I searched for several decades for a nonfiction book with a similar theme and treatment to mine, and I didn’t find it. If one or more do exist, it’s unlikely they are based on a conservative Christian point of view. Thereby, I’m convinced there’s a need and opportunity for Uncommon Character.
The related stories were originally developed for and used while I taught all grades and all ages from kindergarten to college and in venues from prisons to churches. I converted the oral versions into written format, tempered them with a lifetime of experience, collected them into book form, and subsequently wrapped them between a prologue and an epilogue in order to respectively provide a helpful orientation and a final practical advocacy.
In the process, I discovered three ubiquitous principles: 1) people love true stories, 2) good stories have the power to instruct and motivate where other approaches fail or are only modestly successful and memorable, and 3) positive character and good role models are on the decline and rarely taught or upheld as a model, but stories offer a means to restore our diminished integrity and legacy. This is a collection intended to satisfy these needs.
Additionally while preparing the book, I uncovered two negative and two positive universal truths about human nature and modern education respectively. The negative truths were that most people were settling on unwholesome role models as their personal heroes while simultaneously lacking discriminating mentors; and that positive character is on the decline and rarely formally practiced, taught, or upheld as a behavioral model. The positive truths were that people of all ages love true stories – even more so if they’re also entertaining; and that well-constructed stories have the power to guide and motivate where other approaches fail and are only modestly successful or enduring. Here is a collection of 26 such stories intended to meet these universal needs.
One expert writer I read said we are to write our book to ourselves; i.e. the writer is the target audience (I know many other experts disagree with that approach); but which “me” did I target? My personal journey went through the following series of statuses: unconcerned to liberal to fence-sitter to sincere seeker to conservative Christian.
The following is a list of the objectives I had in mind while writing “Uncommon Character”:
“Sticky-points” for daily living, goal planning, finishing well, and drawing close to Jesus
Facilitate and encourage character-builder training
Presentation of heroic role models who have lived lives of integrity worthy of imitation
Discussion starter, teaching aid, and curriculum supplement
Practical applied Christianity
Testimonies and witnesses to the glory and grace of God
Stories to be shared with family, friends, or students for enjoyment or education (provides a reservoir of healthy family and education stories)
Inspiration begetting inspiration (motivate others to creativity and action)
Pay-back for the past and pay-it-forward for the future
Encouragement and counsel on selecting goods heroes; i.e. role models
Help for dealing with change and choice in life
Understand and develop good character
Advocacy for the value of stories and storytelling
Instructional and inspirational reading
Personal legacy for family and friends
Distribution and use in prisons and recovery centers as well as Christian schools and home education
Display of practical applications of Christianity, upholding the scriptures, and revealing Jesus
Defense and restoration America’s foundational principles
Wake-up call regarding the insidious political, social, and moral evils encumbering America
Presentation of timeless truths compared to today’s rampant promotion of mushy relativity and feelings
Tool for teachers to utilize in much the same manner as I did.
Share the personal lessons I have learned over the years, mostly by the hard way
Select stories incorporating truth that reads better than good fiction
Uphold and restore the traditional concepts damaged and under attack by political correctness
Motivate readers to undertake further educational pursuit
Readers to share my stories with family, friends, associates, and classes
Promote reading stories and classics with themes about truth, character, and heroes
Provide the readers and hearer with inherent virtue and practical value.
Concern over the increasing malaise of victim mentality wed to an entitlements lifestyle, so the focus is on providing an antidote
“Sticky-points” that slip their way into our future as the stories are recited and read; for their past to become part of our present.
Beyond personal enjoyment, encourage readers to utilize the stories for instructional purposes in home education, Sunday school, traditional classroom, recovery center, ministry, workplace, prison, and missions.
I did not invent this storytelling method of instruction; its universal effectiveness was simply confirmed when applied in my many engagements. Wise men over the millennia dramatically utilized stories to aid their goals and their related successes are well recognized. My “teaching-story” continues to evolve as I share these nonfiction portraits in the classroom. After they were formalized within “Uncommon Character”, I had a refined tool to aide my storytelling goals of providing quality hero choices and helping build virtuous character in the students, regardless of their circumstances, so they too were better equipped to finish well.