When I’m going through a certification at work, part of what I’m graded on is my ability to accept, receive and implement feedback. After I finish my part, I have to stand in front of a room of my peers and get feedback publicly. One of the hardest things to do is to not respond with, “But I did that,” or “My intent was…” Even if I disagree with the corrections, I have to come back the next day and implement them into my presentation. When I’m done with that one, the process starts over.
I can tell you that this process of receiving corrections and having to implement them has made me better at my job. It’s not easy to hear someone offer corrections to what you do. It’s even more difficult to change what you do based on their feedback. However, I’ve learned that advice given from another perspective is often what I need to get to my next level. If I keep doing things the way I’ve always done them, I’ll never improve.
King Solomon, the wisest person to ever live, understood this. Even though he had more understanding than anyone on the planet, he still valued advice and correction. In Proverbs 19:20 he penned, “Take good counsel and accept correction— that’s the way to live wisely and well” (MSG). You are never too smart, too wise or too good that you won’t need counsel or correction. Those who hear it, accept it and implement it will live wisely and well.
How well do you receive advice or correction? I can tell you it doesn’t come natural to us, but it is something we each need to adopt into our lives. Some of the greatest leaders I’ve worked for routinely stopped their process to invite advice or correction. They didn’t pretend to have it all figured out, nor did they continue down a path because that was what was successful last time. Inviting other people to give us advice, without explaining our reasoning back, accepting their advice and implementing will be difficult, but it’s the path to living well.
How many times have you told someone, “Actions speak louder than words”? Probably too many times to count. A pet peeve that we all share is someone who says one thing and does another. It speaks to their credibility and your ability to trust what they say. I’m sure we can all think of examples right now of times we’ve encountered this in others. The sad thing is that it happens in the Church as much as anywhere. That’s why the book of James in the Bible is pretty much about just that.
We’re all familiar with “Don’t just be a hearer of the Word, but a doer also,” and “Faith without works is dead.” James continues this theme throughout his book to remind us that we can’t just talk like Christians, we must live and act like Christians. James 3:13 says, “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts” (MSG). As he wrote, it speaks to our reputation.
Living well can be translated into living honorably. People around us should be able to trust what we say. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich.” What is your reputation among other believers? Are you someone they can count on? Are you a person that has an honorable reputation among your local group of believers? What about your reputation among non-believers? To me, this one is of utmost importance. If the faith we claim is denied by the way we live, how will we win them?
I was always told that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. What I’ve learned is that there is always someone looking. People are always watching us as believers. Our lives should reflect what we say we believe. I’m not saying you have to live perfectly because that’s impossible, but you do have to live honorably. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. So let’s not have dead faith. Let’s be doers of the Word and live a life that acts out the faith we profess.