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Easier to Say than to Doby Duane Mabee on November 24, 2018
In a book called Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge, there is a chapter by John Maxwell on modeling the way for other people to follow. In that chapter, Maxwell writes: “It is easier to teach what is right than to do what is right.” So true, but people learn far more from what they see you do then what they hear you teach. We all know that it is easy to say the right things. What counts is what you do.
We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are. That’s one reason God is so interested in who we become. Everything we do flows out of who we are. Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil, (Matt. 12:34-35 ESV). It is also out of the abundance of the heart that a person acts. What we do flows from who we have become.
Leadership is both something you are and something you do. If I am not becoming the characteristic I’m teaching, I will not be able to export it into someone else’s life. I will export what I am and what I do, more than what I teach. If you are not living what you are saying, what you teach will not take hold in the lives of those you are trying to influence. What will take hold is what they see you do. Parents know this all too well. We frequently see in our children, not the actions we have so diligently taught them, but mirror images of what they have seen us do.
When what we are, what we say, and what we do match up, we have both character and credibility. If they don’t, we are in trouble. The best thing we can do to influence others appropriately is to grow in Christlikeness ourselves, before we tackle trying to get someone else to change.