I have often said that you can tell the priorities in a person’s life by watching how they spend their time and money. When you take time to observe the expenditures of those resources, it becomes pretty evident the level of value and importance a person places upon varies aspects of their lives. I read some information recently that provided for me another measurement of the way people approach life. I think that the manner in which people treat other people can speak volumes about their beliefs.
Now before you point out that many people have a disconnect between their beliefs and their actions, I would argue that there may not be that much of a disconnect. The reason for this may be that an individual really is uncertain about what they believe. I could cite a long list of reasons that this may be the case but if one does not truly know what they believe, then their actions will generally not be consistent and a disconnect truly may exist.
Another possible reason for this disconnect is because their beliefs do not line up with the beliefs of those around them. Since most people want to “fit in” with the groups that exist in their lives (family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, etc.), they may attempt to suppress their true beliefs so that they are not communicating thoughts which are in opposition to whatever group to which they may want to remain connected. This obviously creates in their own minds. I also believe that there is limited success in this suppression since I would argue their actions in relationships around them would eventually betray them.
On a more positive note, if a person’s actions truly communicate their core beliefs, then it is easy for the person to communicate their beliefs to others not so much in words but in action. I believe that this is the example set for us by Jesus. While he did spend a fair amount of teaching and correcting individuals, I believe that his main message regarding the love of God was most clearly communicated through his actions. Many attribute Francis of Assisi with saying, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” While there is not solid evidence to support attributing these words to Francis, the concept remains important. It clearly communicates the value in communicating one’s beliefs in actions.
Another very important reality if my thoughts are correct is that a person needs to be mindful of what their actions are communicating. The way that an individual interacts with others can be, and are being, observed. I, or you, may be communicating messages to others which we have no idea or intention to communicate. I must always strive to do my best in aligning my actions with my beliefs.
While I lift up the communication of beliefs in a Christian‘s life, I think that this can be said about any person. I think that what a person believes can be observed by watching their interactions with other people. I find this to be an important truth for leaders inside and outside of the church. If a person is going to be a leader, they need to understand the beliefs of those that they are to lead. They do not have to agree with those beliefs and they may even determine that it will be important to attempt to change or redirect the beliefs of the individuals in the group but they have to initially understand the beliefs that are currently held. One helpful tool in achieving this understanding is to observe the actions of the people, this will give strong indication of what is believed within the group.