Several months later, I married my beloved Rhonda and our financial picture improved. Time to get my insurance squared away! We stopped in at the agency where Rhonda had her auto policy to have me added. Surprise! Not only would they not add me to any policy, they were now dropping her since she had married an insurance risk! Talk about a blow to one’s self esteem. And I didn’t get any smiles from my new bride on the way out.
Since that time, I’ve never driven without auto insurance. I’m no longer considered a risky guy. At least in that area. In fact, the company that gave us that painful rejection has made many offers over the years to have us sign up. Hmmm. I’m still thinking it over and weighing their risk factors. (Smile)
Make no mistake. I’m not questioning the right of any company to qualify their customers. Perhaps there might have been a way to work with us, however.
The brings me to a new “character” defining method being employed today, via algorithms. I learned of it in an article in the New York Times, as written by Quentin Hardy: “Using Algorithms to Determine Character.” (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/using-algorithms-to-determine-character/?emc=edit_th_20150727&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68618012&_r=0)
The story tells of a California firm that loans money. And in the course of just over a year, they have forked over $135 million to people with “mostly negligible credit ratings.” We’re talking recent college graduates without the normal credit building history.
Instead, this company, known as Upstart, chooses SAT scores, college information including majors, and grade-point averages. The quality of the chosen school factors in as well.
What I found especially interesting in the story was the way two men from different companies engaged in this analytics-based evaluation system avoided the use of the word “character.” Paul Gu, co-founder of Upstart, skips around it. And Douglas Merrill, founder and CEO of another lending company, ZestFinance, puts a qualifier on it as well.
Merrill says, “‘Character’ is a loaded term, but there is an important difference between ability to pay and willingness to pay.” Willingness is a character issue.
Some of the evaluation criteria considered is whether a person has ever given up a prepaid wireless phone number. If so, why? Were they on the run? Another firm uses analytics to predict how long an employee will stay by looking at past work behavior. Or how well a manager holds on to talent. Or a person’s tenacity.
These companies may shy away from using the word character, but it has certainly found its place of importance in business. Warren Bennis has said, “Successful leadership is not about being tough or soft, sensitive or assertive, but about a set of attributes. First and foremost is character.” Scottish minister and author John C. Geikie stated, “Our character is but the stamp on our souls of the free choices of good and evil we have made through life.”
Here’s an important lesson for all of us. The quality of our character can change over time. The person you were yesterday is not the person you have to be tomorrow. Or as I heard recently, “Your history is not your destiny.” We can develop and improve our character with time.
There is One whose character does NOT change. Hebrews 13:8 says plainly, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (ESV) James 1:17 adds, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (ESV)
I wonder if there are any analytics that could measure the change in a person who comes to faith? The Bible says we become new creatures when that faith takes hold. The old has passed away. The new has come. Our character changes.
I know something else very important about God’s love. Once you’re on His plan, the policy states that you never get dropped. Whew!
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