Do You Want People to Do as You Say, Not as You Do?

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may
see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matt. 5:16

There have been precious few folks who have impacted my life by demonstrating a genuine and consistent Christ-like love through their attitudes and actions. Several years ago, one of my favorite role models went to be with the Lord. Both in his public and private life, I saw great evidence to his godly character. After he died, it was interesting to see the numerous reports and commentaries associated with his words and life work. Despite all his accomplishments in football, the media’s primary focus was on his outstanding character—his good report. Few editorials I read discussed his many worldly accomplishments, but many underscored his courage and integrity. This legendary Hall of Fame coach left a legacy of love and encouragement to his players, fans, and the many community organizations he fostered. Tom Landry was a giant of a man whose character and integrity were unquestionable.

Having good character means having sound moral, ethical, and spiritual under-girding that rests on a truth that reinforces a life, and that resists the temptation to compromise. Coach Landry was surrounded by hypocrisy and confusion, yet he was grounded. His was a life with focus and conviction. When asked why he wasn’t in the bidding wars for a certain All-Pro athlete who had stated he wanted to be a Cowboy, his response was predictable: “The man lacks character. I don’t want players who are so full of themselves that they can’t be a team player!”

In recent years the National Football League has been focusing on improving the character of their coaches and athletes. Several programs have been developed to help the teams cope with improper behavior and destructive personal attitudes that eventually affect the reputation of the team, league, and even the sport.

As Christians, this needs to be our focus, too. We are directed by scripture to continually look for ways to encourage, assist, inspire, and devote ourselves to others. If we truly love others the way we want to be loved, we are doing the will of our Lord. When we model a Christ-like love to others, we testify to the character of God living within us. The old expression of “more is caught than taught” is true. Discipleship is about presenting a consistent testimony through our actions, attitudes, and words. Remember, our conduct is a direct revelation of our character. Our actions will always speak louder than our words. Like St. Francis of Assisi said, “Go preach. When necessary use words.” This was also the philosophy of Mother Teresa: “It’s about being not just doing.”

Jesus felt very strongly about the issue of character. In His famous “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5), He teaches us the requirements for a godly character (being “like Him”). To be a faithful, committed disciple who has honor and good virtue, Jesus asked His followers to receive and act upon the “declarations of blessedness”. It’s only after we become humble, compassionate, meek, merciful, kind, pure in heart, and a peacemaker that we can be “the light of the world”—a role model. Are you the role model God intends you to be? As for me, I’m daily trying to be a man of greater character.

The Power of Truth:

  • “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matt. 5:14-15

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to make you the kind of role model He intends you to be—that the people in your life need. Trust Him to mold you and carve out your character in a way that pleases Him.