The greatest gift is character

November 29, 2019 |

Happy Black Friday, America! Although thanks to the Internet and early Black Friday deals, Black Friday is no longer stirring as much controversy as it did when it first started encroaching on Thursday night and pulling people away from their family Thanksgiving celebrations.  Merchants have now pushed it so far forward that in some cases, it’s crept past Thanksgiving.  All their Black Fridays deals were sold out by Wednesday! Well, at least it’s no longer interfering so much with Thanksgiving, although at this rate, it might soon be encroaching on Halloween.

(As a reminder, here’s a list of merchants who joined the growing movement to stay closed on Thanksgiving, if you’d like to reward them with your patronage:

Like many Americans, I’m making sure I enjoy this holiday with my family and friends by not talking about politics or the “impeachment” circus.  Instead, I'd like to talk about something that doesn't change with the passing headlines.  It's the greatest gift that a parent can give to a child: the gift of character.  This is the time of year when people go out shopping for holiday bargains, and it’s easy to let the thrill of the hunt and the lure of saving a few bucks on the latest gadgets override our good manners and consideration for others.  But if you have character, that’s not a problem. 

Where does character come from?  It’s rooted in parents teaching their kids integrity and respect for others.  And it may not be politically correct to say so, but kids need to be disciplined according to traditional, agreed-upon standards. 

It seems to have become a sad Black Friday tradition to see news stories of people so crazed to get at bargains that they riot or commit violence against each other.  A few years ago at a Walmart in New York, a worker was actually trampled to death.  The crowd even trampled other workers who were trying to help him; and when told the store was being closed because of the death, they shouted curses and just kept shopping. 

If you could turn back the clock a decade or two, I'll bet you would see most of those shoppers as kids, running wild, bullying other kids, sassing their other words, having no boundaries and being taught no consideration for others.  If you'd said anything to their parents then, they might've replied, "We don't want to stifle their creativity."  Or "We don't want to impose our standards on our kids.  Let them figure out for themselves what feels right to them." Instead of admitting that their kids’ behavior was objectively wrong, they might've tried to rationalize it as being “free-spirited” or needing a Ritalin prescription. Or most likely, they would've just cursed and punched you for daring to question their parenting. 

Children may act as if they resent discipline, but they not only need it, they secretly crave it.  They need parents to instill the Golden Rule, and to teach them that there are certain lines we all must stay within, or else society falls apart. That’s a lesson we’re seeing with frightening clarity recently, with the rise of such groups as Antifa, who think that laws don’t apply to them and that the First Amendment somehow gives them the right to bully and intimidate others into silence. They think there are all sorts of boundaries that apply to other people, but none to them. Whatever feels right to them, they just do, even violence and vandalism.

There are thousands of strips of concrete in every city.  Imagine what would happen if every airline pilot made a personal decision on land on whatever patch of concrete “feels right” to land on.

We live in a time when mass media and social media cause shifts in standards for language or behavior to spread almost instantly.  Suddenly, both living and historic figures are being condemned for not measuring up to some PC behavior rule that didn’t even exist before last Tuesday (are you old enough to remember ‘way back to when it wasn’t considered hateful, bigoted, intolerant transphobia to object to a middle-aged man walking into the ladies’ bathroom when your 13-year-old daughter was in there?)

But we can’t be constantly judging the past by ever-shifting standards of the moment.  As British author L.P. Hartley said, “The past is a foreign country.  They do things differently there.”  The only fair way to judge anyone, past or present, is by an immovable moral standard that’s not subject to the whims of changing fads and opinions.  To do that, children have to be taught such standards.  Standards such as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Take responsibility for your own actions.  Try to keep your head even when everyone around you is losing theirs.  These are things that were true centuries ago, they’re true today, and they’ll be true centuries from now.

I once had the importance of such solid guideposts brought to my attention in a way I will never forget. In 1997, Arkansas was struck by a devastating tornado.  As Governor, I was visiting one of the worst-hit towns when State Rep. Martha Shoffner said she had to show me something.  She took me to a courthouse whose roof was completely gone.  Inside was a museum in which everything had been blown away or destroyed…except for one thing.  Still hanging on the wall was my official Governor's photo.  It hadn’t broken or fallen off.  It wasn't even askew.  I took it as a sobering reminder that no matter what disaster might befall our state, it was the Governor’s responsibility to remain steady as a rock and see everyone through. 

The thought occurred to me then that we can't keep storms out of our kids' lives, and we can't teach them to hide from storms. We also can’t let them go on believing that if they scream loudly enough, the storms will give in and go away. All we can do is give them a strong enough foundation so that when life’s storms inevitably come, they'll be prepared to ride them out with a level head and a steady hand. 

Here’s wishing you a safe and courteous shopping day and a happy Thanksgiving weekend! 

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Comments 26-50 of 90

  • Stephanie Staker

    11/29/2019 09:23 PM

    Excellent, Governor. I couldn't add a single word to this. I am passing it on to everyone I know. Thank you. I love reading your newsletter. :)

  • Norman R Able

    11/29/2019 09:16 PM

    I appreciate your every newsletter & your encouragement through them. I praise God that we are able to read someone as stimulating as Mike Huckabee. This one on "Character is the greatest gift" is your very best one! John Wooden said, "Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there." He added: "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." Helen Keller said, "Character cannot be developed in ease & quiet. Only through experience of trial & suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, & success achieved. Again, thanks and Lord bless you and your family

  • Joyce Birch

    11/29/2019 07:27 PM

    Happy Thanksgiving Governor. Great newsletter. We had a great & thankful Thanksgiving. I just adored my 5 grandchildren (4 boys & 1 girl). Youngest 15, oldest 22. We had a mountain of good constructive conversations & many laughs. We had NO POLITICAL conversations, it was great. BTW, I don't do Black Friday shopping, stopped that many years ago. I like calm, no pushing, & long lines.

  • Elaine Liming

    11/29/2019 07:14 PM

    Loved your commentary on Character. As a retired teacher when I had parent meetings. I would talk about character, discipline, teach by example. The my parents would be asked by me, to grade themselves in these areas. The discussions were interesting especially when I said " I am curious why so many of you wanted your student in my class. I never forgot the Father who said I want them to have a teacher who helps me with parenting.

  • cynthia chauncey

    11/29/2019 06:52 PM

    Thankyou Mr. Huckabee this is a message that so many of of us needed to hear. God bless you and hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.

  • John M Glueck

    11/29/2019 05:39 PM

    Thanks so much for the commentary! Most of our academic institutions make all of this cultural breakdown much worse, accelerating it, by reinforcing the insanity prevalent among young students that gratitude for our Judeo-Christian heritage, respect for others opinion, honoring our past, holding people personally responsible, colorblindness in law and opportunity are somehow "white" or "supremacist". May the Great God bring us to repentance!

  • Chester Kokel

    11/29/2019 05:20 PM

    From time to time , when troubles came along, I would recite the words from my mother...

    “Be glad that you have troubles because they strengthen your character”

    My college roommate, Mike, felt sure that both of us had enough character already.

    That was over 40 years ago.

    Now I hope that the Lord is in agreement. For all of this family of God!

    All in God’s own time....


  • Chester Lee Kokel

    11/29/2019 04:58 PM

    Many thanks to each of your kind responses. Each of you are a blessing!

    Please correct my previous comment to “wife” rather than “woman”.There are many single virtuous women.

  • jose manzano

    11/29/2019 04:46 PM

    No crime, no impeachment, so simple like that !

  • Chester Kokel

    11/29/2019 04:35 PM

    Hello Mike Huckabee,

    Thank you for today’s message
    You are an inspiration for me.
    This world of politics should be of great concern for us all.

    Husbands must consider the following scripture written in God’s Word.

    Proverbs 31:23 about the virtuous woman....

    “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land”.

    “Be glad that you have troubles because they strengthen your character”.

    I often heard my mother say these words.

    “The fervent and effectual prayers of a righteous man availeth much.

    Again, my telephone # is 713-784-0503.

    Do not be shy. You can still be my first caller. Perhaps I can be of help to someone in some way. Or you might be of some help to me.

    Kind regards,


    And recently the question more recently

  • anthony cuccia jr

    11/29/2019 04:13 PM

    To spare the rod is to spoil the child ,,,just as relevant now as ever.


    11/29/2019 03:57 PM

    An excellent read today! It certainly puts things into perspective as to what is really important in our lives and that why I keep following you.

  • Bruce Greene

    11/29/2019 03:33 PM

    Good afternoon,
    How can you make this (above) a required course (with annual refresher's) in our educational system. Include our colleges and universities.

  • Melinda Lucas

    11/29/2019 03:20 PM

    Happy Thanksgiving ! Thank you for your timely words! Yesterday at our gathering each child and adult took a moment to say what they are grateful for each day. Many of us, and especially the children, shared appreciation and love for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father. The gift of a family, in all it's varieties in our case, was spoken of by everyone. After dinner though, and I have no idea how this got started, something happened. There we were, just sitting at the table and then, it only took a single person to ignite the change: one of the boys decided to see how long he could hold a spoon on his nose! Before you know it EVERYONE was trying to hold a spoon on their nose. Things got out of hand, things were said, standards were lowered, no holds were barred, and sadly, Grandma never did keep the spoon on her nose. We had a great time. :)

  • David Ralph Titus

    11/29/2019 02:49 PM

    Keep the line moving but there will be no pushing or shoving. Have respect for others.

  • Kathryn Holpp

    11/29/2019 02:39 PM

    I love your letters. God bless you during these holidays and always. Keep the letters coming and Thank You Mike!!

  • Chester Kokel

    11/29/2019 02:37 PM

    I do not use social media. But I welcome your feedback.

    Questions , comments, corrections, instructions. My telephone number at home is (713) 784 0503.

    Kind regards,


  • Penny Harrison

    11/29/2019 02:16 PM

    Dear Mike - Agree completely, and was reminded what my Dad said - that he had a “window “ of time when my sister and I each arrived at age 3 years, he and Mom needed to have instilled in us that “Immovable moral standard” that would lead us to a successful life - I suppose we would have been described as well behaved children !!! We carried on his wisdom with our children and they are carrying it through their children! We are so very thank full for our Dad!!!

  • Fran Rambo

    11/29/2019 02:08 PM

    Great observation and wisdom. Check out the new Chic Filet commercial on TIME!!! SO PROFOUND! You can find it on YouTube. I brought it to my busy child rearing children and I could see they didn't quite get it. Joyce Meyers said, ' we live life looking forward, we UNDERSTAND it looking backwards'! So true! Love your shows!

  • Chester Lee Kokel

    11/29/2019 01:55 PM

    The Lord corrects and instructs me on a regular basis. I appreciate his correction and instruction.

    We are saved by grace through grace.

    Each person has a choice. What will we do about Jesus.
    This is more of a personal struggle for some than for others. We are drawn to The Lord by the Holy Spirit. Someone gets us the message,
    Someone prays. We pray with our lips and believe with our heart in according with scripture. We let others know about It. Water Baptism in a family of Christian people is a good testimony!

    It is through Jesus that we win the victory! All of life’s struggles do not end there. But the struggles are won more regularly, the way becomes clearer as we learn about the Bible. If you are reading this message, a Bible can be easily attained. Jesus is the Living Word. We are to do best for The Lord Jesus as he directs.

    The victory is ultimately won when all the redeemed get to heaven.

    Kind regards,


    The Holy Spirit is the Facilitator. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter,

    God’s word, the Holy Bible has the best information and instruction.

  • Philip G. Dixon

    11/29/2019 01:48 PM

    God bless you and your family, Governor and I hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving day!

  • Rock Hernandez

    11/29/2019 01:47 PM

    Thank you, Mike, for this great, timely reminder. I'm encouraged by it and I'll continue to pass these truths on to my adult children and my grand-kids! Lord's blessings to you and your familia. Merry Christmas!

  • Betty Jo Simone

    11/29/2019 01:46 PM

    I wish every school in the country could read this message. Your reasoning and being able to put the words together are wonderful. Hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving.

  • Sandra Vollrath

    11/29/2019 01:45 PM

    Excellant words. You are so blessed to be able to speak and write such beautiful
    thoughts. Thank you for sharing. SAV

  • Elizabeth Odom

    11/29/2019 01:17 PM

    Right on Governor! We raised our children to be responsible and when they started having their own children and wondered how to teach them right and wrong I had a favorite saying for them: "Kids need fences to learn. As they grow the fences are widened so they can face new challenges with the proper respect as they grow." We have 4 wonderful daughters, 5 grandchildren and are starting on our great great grandchildren. I believe they will be raised with respect and love, too.