Who are the heroes in your life? Take a moment to think about the people throughout your life who have inspired you to be a better person or encouraged you to stretch to greater heights? It may be someone you know personally or it may be a person you read about in a book or magazine or on the internet. It could be a former teacher or even a family member or friend. Most of us have at least one person we can point to and say, “She was a great example for me. She inspired me to be a better person.”
For me, I have had several positive examples in my life. Mrs. Billman, my high-school Sunday School teacher was the picture of a godly women. She knew God’s word and reflected its truths in her own life and challenged us as students to do the same. Her gentle and wise way of dealing with people and leading us along God’s path demonstrated to me what it means to live for Christ and be a follower of His. Her example inspired me to become a teacher. My dad was another powerful example in my life. His enthusiastic and positive way of looking at life’s circumstances showed me how to turn my eyes toward hope and not despair no matter what life brings. Dad sincerely cares about others and as I watch his love in action, I am inspired to reach out and be thoughtful and sensitive toward the people God places in my life.
On a broader scale, women like Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom, Elizabeth Fry and Joni Erikson Tada have served as strong role models of women who lived with passion and purpose despite the difficulties they faced. Their stories have touched my life and inspired me in my journey to follow Christ. I can look back over my life and thank the Lord for the people God has used to influence me and develop certain traits within me. The powerful picture of people who live courageously and fearlessly for Christ can serve to ignite a fire in a new generation of believers. It’s not necessarily what they say that matters. It’s how they live. The heroes in my life exemplify transformed lives. They are sermons in action.
Edgar Guest is credited with writing a poem called “Sermons we See.” I heard my dad quote this poem quite often when I was a young girl. It speaks to the powerful influence our life example has beyond words. Here’s the poem:
Sermons We See
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.
One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to every one is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.
(Edgar Guest, Collected Verse of Edgar Guest (New York, NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976), pg. 599)
We are life’s living lesson books. We have the opportunity to lead people down a good path through the power of our actions. It is also possible to lead people down a destructive path as they watch our lives in motion. It’s rather convicting isn’t it? And yet it also makes us contemplate the type of influence we have on others. May we be examples of Christ’s love and live the message of the gospel in our daily interactions.
This is an excerpt from Karol’s book, A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God. The DVD is on sale during the month of March for $5. Click Here for more info.
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