When I first started my ministry, I felt that God showed me three keys to success. The first was to do whatever I did with excellence. The second was to always be a person of integrity. And the third was to keep strife out of my home and live a life of peace. As a result, those three things-excellence, integrity and no strife-have always guided the way I operate.
But I think the real key has been that I've committed to not just operate that way in my ministry, but in my home as well. You see, you'll always set a much greater example for those around you by the way you live than by the words you speak. It's critical that you learn to bridge the gap between your words and your actions. That bridge makes all the difference.
We all have a sphere of influence. The people we influence-our children, our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends-learn a lot more from what they see us do than what they hear us say. So when we say that we're not supposed to gossip or be critical or make messes and then leave them for others to clean up, it never influences others the way it would if we actually did those things instead of just talked about them. We need to be people who say what we're going to do and then do what we said.
When we make the commitment to follow God and become a Christian, we are committing to care about the things that God cares about-all the time, every single day. If not, we end up being phony and insincere. And it won't take long before people see that we really aren't who we say we are. We're one kind of person at church, another kind of person at work, and yet someone else at home. God never intended for us to live that kind of life.
As I travel, I meet all kinds of people and I get to see them in all kinds of situations. It's amazing to me the number of people who will volunteer to help at church but won't lift a finger to help at home! When you make the decision to walk in love, it's a full-time commitment. You decide to walk in love all the time, on purpose. In fact, love-real love-is a way we live all the time. You don't simply turn it on and off.
First Corinthians 12:31 says, But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all--love] (The Amplified Bible). You can walk in all the gifts of the Spirit-but they are of no value unless you bridge the gap between what you are saying and what you are doing and walk in love. Like that verse says, it is the most excellent way.
If you really want to influence others to bring about change, whether it's in your home, your community, or in other places in the world, you are going to have to walk in integrity. Integrity means that you are the same in public as you are in private. It means that you are the same at church as you are at home. Integrity means you've learned to bridge the gap between what you say and what you do.
Those who are not living with excellence and integrity are not going to change what's on television or the Internet. If real change is going to happen, it's going to come from those who are committed to doing the right thing and walking in love-authentic and genuine love-all the time, every day.
Today is the day to bridge the gap between what you say and what you do. There will never be a better time to make the commitment to live with excellence and integrity and walk in love. Be determined to be all that God made you to be.