Occasionally, the creative well runs dry and I end up “borrowing” from other great writers. One of my favorites that I’ve quoted many times in the past is Henri Nouwen (who along with Brennan Manning are probably my two favorite authors).
Here’s what he wrote that again struck me so powerfully:
“To be a witness for God is to be a living sign of God’s presence in the world. What we live is more important than what we say, because the right way of living always leads to the right way of speaking. When we forgive our neighbours from our hearts, our hearts will speak forgiving words. When we are grateful, we will speak grateful words, and when we are hopeful and joyful, we will speak hopeful and joyful words.
When our words come too soon and we are not yet living what we are saying, we easily give double messages. Giving double messages – one with our words and another with our actions – makes us hypocrites. May our lives give us the right words and may our words lead us to the right life.”
Right speaking comes out of right living. People will sense the authenticity of your words when they see what you say lived out. Your faith will be more caught than taught, and if your words don’t match your actions, then people will dismiss the words and not the actions.
If I speak and act out of a need to be liked or thought well of, then what I say and do won’t be as effective as if I speak and act as one who knows who he is and who knows that he is the Beloved of God. My identity informs my authenticity.
I hope and pray that from this point on I will speak only what I live, and I will live only what God has already spoken about me.