George Bradt published an article with Forbes Magazine in April of 2013 entitled, “Practice What You Preach or Pay the Price.” He said, “They won’t believe what you say. They will believe what you do.” He went on to say that even if what you say matches what you do, but doesn’t align with your beliefs, you will eventually falter. He stated that is why the “Be, Do, Say “approach from the Brave leadership model is so powerful. Nothing kills credibility faster than not practicing what is preached. When your words are disconnected from your actions, others are sure to notice. And when this behavior repeats itself becoming a pattern, others willingness to follow will end. While I am guessing that the author of this leadership style was not thinking of Jesus when he created or coined it, I think that it is applicable to Jesus’s leadership. Jesus always did what he said; in fact, his words often created the action. He could speak the action. We read about it over and over again in the Gospel.
The “Be Do Say” approach is outlined in this way. “Say: it’s important to get your message right. People listen to your words. Think them through. Use them to guide the ongoing, iterative conversations that mark communication today. Do: Everything communicates. What you say and don’t say. What you do and don’t do. If you can’t follow through on your words with actions, don’t say them. Be: Underlying everything are your core values and beliefs. Don’t get into a situation where you are saying things you don’t believe in. Even if you follow through on them with actions, you will eventually be exposed. If you believe it, say it, and do it, and they will follow.”
I must admit that I have not read the book, but I do like the premise of “Be, Do, Say” and I do believe that those terms do describe Jesus’s leadership and teaching that we read about in the Gospel lessons. Last week in Mark, we read about how Jesus was teaching in the synagogue and rebuked an unclean spirit in a man he encountered there and the man was healed. Today, in Mark 1:29-39 we read about Jesus entering the home of Simon and Andrew and healing Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever simply by taking her hand and lifting her up. We read how Jesus practiced what he preached not just through his words but through his actions. Jesus was a brave leader; he practiced what he preached, even though others were trying to discredit him, even when others were threatening him.
I do believe that in order to be a good leader, you must be brave. It can be difficult to go against the grain or to insist on change. If as a leader you are stressing the importance of being on time, it is important that you show up to meetings on time. If you as a leader are stressing the importance of teamwork, it is important that you are modeling a team approach. If you as a leader are trying to hold people accountable for their actions, then it is important that you are also holding yourself accountable. If as a leader you are stressing the importance of loving one another, then you as a leader must exemplify love through words and actions. Jesus was a wonderful example of what it means to be a good leader and he spent his last few years on Earth providing example after example of how we should act if we want to follow him.
Perhaps some of you might be saying, “I am not a leader. No one is following me.” But I would argue that regardless of what our individual situations are at work or home, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to lead by example. By practicing what we believe, we are providing examples of good behavior to anyone who is paying attention. While we do not read about the “Do, Be, Say” approach in the Gospel, I believe throughout his lifetime, Jesus practiced it and I would encourage us as his followers to do the same. Let’s be brave.
Shalom to you my friend,