We were having a discussion the other evening at Camp Harlow about character flaws. What are they, what can one do about them in oneself, and when and if you should bring them to a friend's attention.
Our definition for the sake of the conversation was "part of our nature that, while not a necessarily a sin, is detrimental to yourself or others." Talking incessantly, for example. Is that a sin? No. But Poverbs says "when words are many, sin is not absent." So that flaw could lead to sin. Likely, if your mouth never stops moving, you also aren't allowing enough delay to think over your subject, or choice of words. And if your constant talking involves interrupting people or monopolizing a room, then you're bordering on selfishness and inconsideracy.
What about virtues. Can a virtue in excess become a character flaw? The virtue of temperance -- only taking what you need and no more. What if you walk into a restaurant and send back a plate because there is "simply too much" on it. Or go to a friend's house and refuse what is offered because "all you want" is something simpler and less costly than what is offered. C.S. Lewis in Screwtape Letters calls this gluttony. It may not be in excess, but you are still demanding what you want, no matter how much trouble anyone else has to go to.
One character flaw of mine that was brought to my attention (indirectly) in a desire for attention. I often do it through self-depracation or false modesty, desiring others to tell me that it isn't true. In that instance, I threw a football well. (Once apon a time one of my kids at youth group decided no girl could live without know how, so he spent one whole lock in teaching me how to throw one.) I, of course, couldn't be happy in the fact that I had done it well, I had to make sure everyone else knew as well. I woudln't shut up about it. I was annoying myself, even. Finally someone said, "You already said that you could, yesterday." Which I had.
So how does one fix a character flaw? The drive for approval is the easy part to fix -- recognise that God's approval is all that matters. But the attention part? I'm not sure. Throw in a martyr complex and it's a bad combination. Does anyone have any thoughts?