What’s Worth More: A Good Idea or a Good Person?

What’s Worth More: A Good Idea or a Good Person?

Fans of the 1964 classic movie “Mary Poppins” had reason for a Jolly Holiday when a musical by the same name first hit the stage in 2004. Though several characters, scenes and songs have evolved from Hollywood to Broadway, at the heart is still Mary’s practically perfect influence on the residents of 17 Cherry Tree Lane.

As with the movie, Mr. Banks (a banker by trade) experiences a profound change of heart on stage, eventually learning to value love and humanity over precision and order. A critical moment in that metamorphous takes place when his children, Jane and Michael, unexpectedly visit him at the bank.

Jane: When you invest the bank’s money, what are you looking for, daddy? A good man, or a good idea?

George (seemingly pondering this for the first time): I suppose I should say it’s a good idea, but a good man is much rarer, and much more valuable.

Treasured workers

What makes a leader outstanding?

What makes one person’s influence greater than another? What makes an employee stand out from his peers? Is it creativity? Talent? Competencies? Yes, these are all necessary traits for climbing the ladder.

However, I believe there is one differentiator that will dramatically improve your marketability and increase your long-term impact: character.

In my prior role at a university, I had the privilege of employing an army of student workers on the marketing team. There were SO MANY great things to love about working with these young leaders! They were fun, eager, creative, talented and much more in tune with the latest trends than I could ever pretend to be. They were ALL chalk-full of really clever, innovative ideas.


Truth be told – with limited time, manpower and resources – we could only handle so many good ideas at a time. And sometimes the most critical work involved less-than-glamorous tasks that didn’t require a great deal of talent.

So when hiring staff positions, we didn’t look for talent, intelligence or creativity alone – those qualities were relatively easy to find. Instead, we looked for candidates who had proven themselves as hardworking, caring, joyful and humble individuals who would consistently give it their all – day in, day out.

For they were treasures, indeed.

The marks of strong character

Let me be clear on this: Creativity and talent are WONDERUL things, bestowed upon you by the Creator, honed with practice over time. But ideas, skills and competencies will only get you so far.

If you truly want to stand out from the crowd, focus on developing character and integrity.

A person of character exhibits:

  • Love for their teammates, bosses, employees, and clients – ALWAYS,
  • Joy, on the good days and the bad,
  • Peace in the midst of chaos,
  • Patience in the slow-going,
  • Kindness to the annoying and outcast,
  • Goodness instead of vengeance,
  • Faithfulness in the detailed monotony,
  • Gentleness with reproach, and
  • Self-control, even when no one is watching.

In other words, the marks of strong character are the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) – outward evidence of Jesus’ transformative work in you. When you allow Jesus to transform you from the inside, your character can’t help but change for the better.

And when your character is showing, people will stop to notice. And listen. And act upon your ideas.

What’s more, you will stop to notice and appreciate all of the wonderful capabilities of the people who surround you. You’ll find no greater pleasure than helping those you lead achieve their God-given potential.

When Jesus is at work in you, your influence will increase exponentially.

The Value of Character

What’s worth more, a good idea or a good man? Mr. Banks was absolutely right.

You will be more employable, successful, impactful when you stretch beyond ideas, skills and competencies to focus on becoming a person of integrity. Your leadership will be transformed.

After all, ideas are a dime a dozen. A person of character is worth his or her weight in gold.

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Heather Day

Heather Day

Heather Day is an accomplished writer and communicator, who served as Lead Like Jesus’ Director of Communications for two years. She also spent nine years as Director of Marketing Communications for Olivet Nazarene University, three years as the Creative Services Coordinator for Bible League International, and two years as Community Outreach Coordinator for St. Anne Community High School. Heather and her husband, Robert, reside in Bourbonnais, IL with their two young children, Emma and Jackson. She is an active member and volunteer leader at Manteno Church of the Nazarene.

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