It's time to stop hiding behind words

October 23rd, 2014

I love words.

I love reading words. I love writing words. I love writing words even more after earning a little income from the words I write. I love speaking words. I love telling a story.

And I think I’m a pretty good storyteller.

But recently, I’ve noticed a disconnect within me — a rift in my soul. In the words of Gordon Atkinson, "My sin is having words that are far more beautiful than my life."

How beautiful it is to see those whose lives outshine their words.

I don't think I'm there yet.

I've fallen into the trap of thinking that my words are enough. Every Sunday, I stand in front of a bunch of people weaving narratives together hoping that the words that God placed on my heart will inspire and challenge the listeners to go and live out those words. On those Sundays when I feel like I've hit a walk-off grand slam of a sermon, I go home, exhausted, but with a sense of a satisfaction, congratulating myself on a job well done.

Then I wait. I wait in hopes that the words I spoke pricked the heart of someone and inspired them to live out those words. I wait for someone to share their story with me. “Pastor, your sermon inspired me to do this…”

And I wait. And wait.

Sometimes, if I’m really honest, I get a little frustrated and blame my listeners for their calloused hearts because no apparent actions have resulted from the words I spoke to them.

Somewhere along my journey, I settled into thinking that being God’s mouthpiece was enough for me. That all I needed to do was to share the words God placed in my heart and wait for others to bring them to life.

Being a messenger is tough work, after all.

The truth is, I’ve become comfortable hiding behind words. It’s easy to point out what should be done and what’s wrong with the world. It’s even easier to say those things and wait to see who might be inspired to pick up the slack.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” they say.

I find myself just wanting to paint what God’s grace can look like in this world with thousands and thousands and thousands of words.

As a preacher, my lack of actions is going to catch up with my overuse of words.

People are going to see a disconnect between my words and my life and when that happens, I won’t be such a useful mouthpiece for God.

I do think that I’m a good storyteller. But I heard a quote from Eugene Cho that struck a nerve: “Don’t just tell a good story, live a good story.”

Which reminded me of the famous quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.”

Perhaps this will serve as a wake-up call for me to stop hiding behind my words and let my actions do the talking once in a while.

Maybe you're feeling the same disconnect within your soul. Maybe you, too, are hiding behind your words. It’s always easier to send the message of “Do as I say, but not as I do.”

But that's different from what Paul urged his readers: “Follow my example, just like I follow Christ’s” (1 Cor. 11:1). So perhaps you'll join me in living out the gospel rather than only describing it with words.

I’m hoping that my life will catch up to my mouth, and that my hands and feet will be in tune with my mind and heart.

comments powered by Disqus