Do you remember “show and tell” day? I’m not sure they still do that in schools, but “back in the day” we had show-and-tell once a week. As I recall, it was optional and whoever thought to bring something in got to go in front of the class with their chosen item, show it off, and then tell about it.
Weapons weren’t an issue in schools in those days, so there was no concern little Billy would bring in dad’s pistol, shotgun or prize hunting knife. Most of the time featured items were things like stamp collections, favorite dolls and stuffed animals, plastic dinosaurs, something from grandma’s memorabilia, model cars and airplanes, maybe a live hamster or gerbil. I don’t think pythons were permitted.
The rules were simple: If you brought something from home at the appointed hour the teacher would call on you to walk before the class, show the item of your choice, and tell whatever you wanted about it.
Being shy, I think I “forgot” to bring something to class most of the time, but do remember taking my dad’s wartime medals to school once and explaining what each represented.
The single stipulation of this activity was it had two parts: Show – and Tell. You couldn’t go forward, face the class, and just tell them about something you left at home. And you couldn’t just show the items; you had to say something about them. It definitely was not show-or-tell. It was both-and, not either-or.
As I ponder what we often call the “Christian faith,” it occurs to me that it, too, is show-and-tell.
Over the years I’ve taken part in evangelistic conferences, events and training programs, and most of the time the emphasis is on the words: How to say the right things, or how to say things right, hopefully to persuade the hearer.
Speakers at these activities often refer to “witnessing.” What strikes me about this, however, is the Bible rarely uses “witness” as a verb. It says we are to “bear witness” (a noun) – in other words, carry testimony about our faith to those that will listen. In most cases, the Scriptures use witness not as something believers do, but rather what they are.
For instance, in Acts 1:8 we find Jesus’ exhortation to His followers: “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He also instructed them, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
People within the Christian culture have become skilled in using the words of the Gospel, but perhaps one reason we’re not more effective is because of a lack of emphasis on the works of the Gospel. As someone been said, if your walk doesn’t equal your talk, the less you say the better.
An overbearing employer professing to be a follower of Christ, for example, that doesn’t treat employees with fairness, compassion, sensitivity and understanding isn’t likely to be listened to when she talks about Jesus. An employee that’s always telling people about Christ, but fails to do his work diligently and with excellence, undermines his own witness.
A husband might be a pillar in his church, but if he abuses or demeans his wife or children, he has no platform from which to speak about Jesus – at home or in public. And a physician that often talks about her faith, but uses coarse language or demonstrates a lack of personal integrity, conceals the light He wants her to shine.
We need to ask ourselves, “How’s my show-and-tell?” Whether at work, in our homes, in a restaurant, on a golf course, sports arena or wherever we happen to be – are our actions speaking louder than our words? If accused in a court of law about our “witness,” would there be enough evidence to convict us?
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.