Newsletter 599 – Making an Impact By the Life You Live

Be the Message 2If you want to know what another person really believes and values then look at his or her actions. There is nothing profound about that statement. It’s a variation of the old cliché that actions speak louder than words. I wondered if I’d get a similar message from Kerry and Chris Shook’s recent book Be the Message: Taking Your Life Beyond Words to a Life of Action. But the reviews nudged me to read this book, written by a pastoral couple who are tired of sermons and a Christianity that is mostly about talking.

This book is a personal reflection written from a Christian perspective but with practical ideas that extend far beyond churchgoers. Consider three examples:

  • Holy Disturbance sounds more theological than it is. This is something that “bothers you enough to make you consider moving out of your comfort zone to become part of the solution.” It’s an area so disturbing and persistent that we are compelled to act. We find this by looking at our life experiences, the people or events around us, and the injustices or areas of ignorance we see and want to change. Often a holy disturbance emerges when we take time to reflect and listen for God’s nudges or for the observations of friends. Sometimes we know what we need to be doing but resist because of fear or lethargy.
  • The Valley of the Overwhelmed. This involves trying to do more than we can handle, sometimes because we see no alternative. Many people have big dreams to change the world. Nothing wrong with that. But “you can’t change the world by stepping over the people closest to you.” What small steps can you take, starting in your own home or neighborhood? Sometimes those small steps make the most lasting difference.
  • Being the Message. That is the theme of the book. Sometimes doors of opportunity open that impact huge numbers of people. More often we impact the world through the lives we live, “being real and authentic, uniquely reflecting the message of Jesus to people who cross our paths every day.” We impact the world by who we are, how we respond in times of crises, react to the needs around us, or follow our areas of holy disturbance.

Is this too simple? Maybe. But there are times when we need to go back to the basics. Please share your experiences or comments.


  1. American evangelicals find themselves in their fourth decade of sermonical accusation of willful, sinful inhabiting of their “comfort zone.”

    In contrast, nearly every evangelical whom I know will do anything within their strength to help others in need, as they see an opportunity.

    If anything, evangelicals in Portland, Oregon, would rather act than talk, and many do. There may be too little of talking up “the words of Life.”

    Nor do many dwell in a comfort zone, what between drudgery work, family tragedy, declining income, broken health, accusatory sermons, angry neighbours, personal failure…


  2. Sounds good but who are they what is there back ground and what do they really believe? there is a lot of Great books and a lot of trash have over 1000 books in my home I have found a bit of both.


    1. jriggs, I assume you are asking about the authors. Good question. I googled them. They lead what apparently is a megachurch in Houston. The book tells stories of their struggles to be authentic and some of the humanitarian things they have done. These writers appear legit but I cannot be sure. I wonder if anyone reads these words and knows he authors well enough to answer your quieries?

      That said, I agree with your comments about books (I hope I did not write any of these that are trash, but on occasion I ponder. Probably all writers ask if their writings were really worth sharing). In my recent move I went through my library, book by book, and threw many away.


  3. It’s really so simple I think that It’s funny. It’s always in line at Walmart (and who hasn’t been??) that I end up thinking about being the ‘change’ I’d like to see in the World. I remember always that I wear His cross on a delicate chain and am His representative when I decide (and it is a choice) to wait patiently, to smile at others trying to wait patiently, to say a kind word to the stressed-out cashier, and to wish her / him a lovely evening or weekend and thank them for their speedy check-out. Smile. Such little things go much father than we know. Jesus and Ghandi knew it: Be the change.


    1. Bravo. I have done a lot of that cashier-encouraging (My wife often encourages young mothers or elderly people in unexpected places). Sometimes these random acts of Christ-honoring kindness pay unexpected dividends.

      On a rare occasion somebody takes advantage of me. But apart from my former students, I think my closest friends are people that I have met in the way you suggested. I have 5 or 6 (I suspect more) who consider me a mentor because I encouraged a stranger and took an interest in people who may often feel unappreciated. Sometimes a follow-up phone call, email, or suggestion that we meet for coffee has been an unexpected “blessing” (if I can use a word that I rarely say.


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