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Character

In April 2005, a year after signing a two-year, $50 million contract to continue Chappelle's Show, Dave Chappelle abruptly walked off the set and... disappeared. Almost no one, including his wife and kids, knew where he went. As he describes the story, he talks about getting in a cab and riding to the airport. While driving there, he looked at flights, trying to find a flight to the furthest place from the US. He ended up in South Africa, where he had some family, some space, and a lot of time to reflect.

Just as Chappelle's Show seemed to be peaking—it had achieved critical praise and devoted fans in a short stretch of time—the wheels came off when Dave disappeared. Rumors flew about what had happened to Dave—even making the pages of publications like Time and Newsweek. Some people said Dave had gone crazy or was on drugs. Some media reported Dave was locked in a mental institution. But he wasn’t. He just needed some space to get some things right in his head and his heart. Dave says he went to South Africa to slow down. How could he have just left like that? "One, I needed a break," he says. "Two, we have family and friends down there. I felt like it was a place where I could reflect"

Why’d he done it? During his third season, Dave began questioning his work on the show. From the very first episode, Dave's sketches sparked controversy. Sometimes it got a laugh; sometimes, it didn’t. Sometimes it crossed the line of who he wanted to be, and sometimes he acknowledges that it contributed to society's dark issues. Over time, he says, some of his sketches started to make him feel "socially irresponsible."

When he returned, he was invited to the Opera show, which is where many stars go when they are ready to restart their careers. After asking all kinds of questions about why he did this, Opera got to the most crucial question – what did you learn? His response was clear, concise, and profound. “Success takes you where character cannot sustain you.”

“Success takes you where character cannot sustain you.”

I love this statement. Why? Because it reminds us that our inside life needs to be bigger than our outside life. We put ourselves in a precarious place when our outward success is more extensive than our internal character. Sooner or later, without character, we get pulled in all kinds of directions and difficulties. Character is the foundation; success is our building. If we have more building than foundation, the tower topples. We must spend as much time, if not more, working on our character than we do our success.

Our character is what is most important to God. Hear these words from 1 Samuel 16:7 – “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

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