Actions speak louder than words. We’ve all been taught this from early on. As an adult, trials and adverse situations have taught me that empty words are useless unless they are backed by action. In disciplinary situations with my kids, I often find myself saying, “I hear you saying that you’re sorry and I need to see your actions change.” There are heaping doses of grace that go along with my saying this, especially when it involves kids.
We learn through trial and error. Through trial and error I have learned my words matter, so I need to choose them wisely. More so than my words, my actions matter. Do my actions match the words flowing from my mouth or are my actions proving my words to be untrustworthy?
One of the things I love most about the farming community is how often farmers are willing to help a struggling neighbor. We often see and hear stories of a farmer who falls ill during planting or harvest and the neighbors band together to get fieldwork done. Recently, when neighboring states were in a severe drought, farmers found themselves with no hay for feeding their livestock. Those in the agricultural community pooled resources to assist their neighbors — though hundreds of miles away — delivering tons of hay to aid those in need. Sometimes, the simple act of making a meal for someone experiencing hardship can offer much needed relief. These deeds are done with no expectation of any type of return. They are done out of the goodness of the heart. These are the people I want to surround myself with.
In the age of social media and news traveling at the speed of light, if our actions speak louder and are more profound than our words, it may behoove us to take a step back from conveying messages with words and let our actions do the talking. This message might be more for me than anyone else! I want to be known as a person of action rather than a person of idle speech and empty promises. I want to be known as a person who is willing to jump into the rough, sticky, messy and unlovable places to lend a hand or a shoulder to cry on. I want to be known as a person who quietly offers helpfulness, not someone who blaringly speaks obtrusive, unsolicited words. When I do choose to speak, I want my words to be invited and meaningful — communicating love and truth.
One of my favorite Bible passages comes from Exodus. Moses is believed to be the author of Exodus, so he would be giving a firsthand account of the happenings in this book. In chapter 17, Moses and the Israelites were battling Amalek. Moses, Aaron and Hur were positioned at the top of a hill while Joshua and his chosen army fought. “Whenever Moses held up his hand interceding in prayer on behalf of the Israelites, Israel prevailed. Whenever he lowered his hand weary from interceding, Amalek prevailed (Exodus 17:11, emphasis mine). Aaron and Hur, who were undoubtedly interceding as well, noticed Moses’ weariness and sprang to action. They found a rock to put under Moses so he could sit and they held up his hands! These three men knew the value of being interdependent, dependent on one another and on God!
If Moses, Aaron and Hur operated independently; or if Aaron and Hur only offered their opinions on what Moses should do in order to not grow weary; Israel would surely have been defeated. Aaron and Hur knew the value of being helpers. Their words would have done nothing to bring relief to a weary friend. It was their actions which were profound!
My goal for this new year is threefold: to be a more active helper, more interdependent and a greater intercessor. My hope is that, rather than adding to a world full of noise, being a quiet helper who is willing to intercede on behalf of others will speak volumes and to continue to build an interdependent community around myself. A community where we can rely on one another and build each other up with prayer, truth and love.
Whitney Nesse is a sixth-generation livestock farmer who is deeply rooted in her faith and family. She writes from her central Minnesota farm.