Tell and Show
Actions speak louder than words. A person can talk for hours on end about what he or she is going to do or what he or she believes in, but at the end of the day if that individual’s actions don’t support his/her words, then all the talking in the world means nothing. The expression “Put up or shut up” is rude but succinct. Did you ever know someone who had all kinds of plans to do this or do that, yet never actually DID any of them? If you have been a parent, and you are even moderately observant about your children, you noticed at some point they really do copy what you do far more than they act on what you say. Because our actions speak louder than our words. My actions speak louder than my words - I cannot tell myself that enough.
I have been a leader of volunteers for over twenty years. Countless times when I led Awana Clubs at the churches I volunteered at people would come up to me and tell me how valuable children are to the future of the Church and how important it is to teach them and mentor them and care about them and blah blah blah. All those words are true, but I only believed they were sincere when the people who spoke them actually volunteered somewhere to help out with the children. If you genuinely care about the kids in your church, your neighborhood, your school, your family, your actions will show it. You won't make excuses, you won't duck responsibility.
Sometimes I stop and check myself. What kinds of things am I telling people I plan to do? What do I say I believe in? What do I actually DO about those things? You can tell someone you love them in twenty different languages, if you don’t lift a finger to support them - they will never believe you. Why should they? We pursue the things we really care about and proclaim the things we want others to think we care about. Facebook provides such a forum for that. It can be used in so many different ways and I am thankful for freedom of speech which allows it. But I think we have to be careful we don’t merely become a society of words. It is often entertaining to read the hundreds of Pinterest quotes people post on their walls every day. And it is easy to hit that “like” button for every single one of them. The danger is if we start to think we are actually making a difference for anyone merely by what we say.
The action we take to fix problems or support the things we say we care about are more important than finding the perfect quote for Facebook or to preach to those who will listen. I can’t let myself feel good about the things I say unless I am willing to get past all my excuses and do something about them. Let’s face it, we all know we find the time to do the things we really want to do. It's not easy to admit, but we do.We find the money to support the things we really care about - and those things might not necessarily be spiritual or moral in nature (not saying they always have to be). Maybe I believe in long vacations - or lots of weekend vacations - or maybe I really love fine wine - or exercise - or fancy restaurants - or McDonald's - or technology - or education - or cars - or my house - or clothes - or shopping - or scrap-booking - or- you fill-in-the-blank.
We figure out how to pursue or get or take care of the things we care about - yet we don’t read too many Facebook posts honoring the things we often put our time, talents and money in to. Let's face it, if my favorite thing in the world was shopping for shoes (probably my least favorite) and every day I posted on Facebook things like, "Got my 33rd pair of Sketchers today!" "Sperry's are on sale at Green Oak - on my way LOL!" You would think, "Boy is she shallow - acts like a thirteen year old." Or something to that affect. So I wouldn't post such things even if I really believed they were important and I shopped for shoes for hours every day.
Instead, we talk about causes or needs. And trendy causes and needs get the most attention. I have no problem with raising awareness, but I think if we really believe something needs to be addressed we will do something more than just talk about it. And I think we should. Obviously, we can’t jump in to every single cause and meet every single need out there. But I know we as a society can do more to address the problems we face than merely posting gut-wrenching quotes on Facebook.
I have a challenge. Challenges are meant to be hard, but they can also be life-changing. Think about your life this past week. This past month. This past year. Consider the things you have posted on Facebook or said to others. Honestly assess where your money and time have gone. Do your actions support your words or have you just painted a compassionate picture of yourself? Did you get your hands dirty? Did you step out of your personal comfort zone? Did you come face-to-face with the people you say you love and really love them? Did you show up and help? Don’t be a windbag blowing hot air about this or that if you aren't going to do anything about the things you profess to believe in and care about. You have time, you have talents, you have skills, you have intelligence, you have something to offer someone else. Find out how you can help, step away from the conversation, and take action!
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