Show AND Tell!
“Don’t tell me it’s a beautiful day. Show me!” This ongoing message to my writing students over the years encouraged them to use descriptive words and action verbs. I wanted them to talk about the radiant sun, the cotton ball clouds pinned to the azure sky, the warm, gentle breeze bending the daffodils. Help me see it!
When it comes to our Christian life, we also need to do more than just talk about it. We should show by example, not by anecdote. Our lives should be the picture of God’s message of love and grace.
The great golfer Arnold Palmer said his dad gave him good advice in his growing up years: “You don’t have to tell people you’re good. Just show them you are.” It’s true for any skill we have. It’s also true when we demonstrate our character or our Christian witness. When our actions show the commitment we have to our Savior, there’s no need for us to wear a nametag.
How we feel about someone else is also evident in our actions. My dad wasn’t a big one for words. In fact, he rarely complimented me on anything. Even so, I never questioned his love for me. With glistening eyes and a clumsy bear hug he showed me how proud he was of what I’d accomplished.
However, there is a time and a place for telling. For putting it in writing. In the case of my husband, any extended written commentary usually comes in the birthday and Mother’s Day cards he chooses for me. I still appreciate, though, his own spoken compliments, however brief, on those days when I’m feeling less than beautiful.
Sometimes as leaders or managers we can assume our appreciation is understood. We offer a good salary, a comfortable place to work, vacation time, benefits, and even bonuses. Doesn’t that show we appreciate our staff, our employees?
We can also take our family for granted, never really expressing how important they are to us, how much they mean to us. Of course we show it with a comfortable place to live, food on the table, clothes to wear, celebrations shared.
But how often do we actually say it? Do we take the time to write an encouraging note or an email to a colleague or employee or even a boss? Or a written reminder of our love and appreciation to someone living under the same roof? Something tangible that can be kept. Words written, not just spoken, go a long way!
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” and Hebrews 10:24 says, “…let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works.” Our words of encouragement are important!
Written compliments shouldn’t be run-of-the-mill, general comments that could be given to anyone. They should include words that show there is a personal connection, a personal knowledge of how meaningful that employee or colleague or family member or friend is to you.
My Lord Jesus understands my need for that personal attention, that personal comment that binds me closer to Him. That’s why certain Psalms are more meaningful to me. Instead of using the impersonal “Blessed is the one who…” I recognize the words are directly connected to me. I feel a personal connection with my Lord when I read, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” “Create in me a clean heart… restore to me the joy of Your salvation.”
The Lord Jesus is good at showing His love for me. What else is needed beyond His dying on the cross for me and showing me His mercy on a daily basis? Yet, I go to the words, the Word, as a reminder of our personal relationship.
Those words are meant just for me. And they are meant just for you too!
Leaving my guilt at the cross,
(First published at Lead Like Jesus November 2017)