What is it that the people of the world really want? What would make a difference to them? The familiar words of Edgar Guest provide an answer:
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one would walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear;
The best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do.
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear.
For right living speaks a language which to every one is dear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
That last stanza contains a powerful image: “Men believe what they behold.” They don’t believe what you say, they only believe what they see. If the two don’t match up, your words will be disregarded. Those of us who make our living by moving our lips ought to ponder that thought carefully.