Practicing what you preach can be easy (or easier!)

Okay, here’s the truth: practicing what you preach isn’t easy at all. I should know, I’m a teacher, and I struggle with this a lot.

You know that saying that goes, “Those who can’t do, teach”? I’ve always thought that was a little harsh. But there is a sad truth behind this: sometimes it’s just easier to teach what you know than it is to actually convert knowledge into effective action. It’s easier to talk about leadership than it is to lead an organization, it’s easier to talk about discipline than it is to stick to your resolutions, it’s easier to preach about self-control than it is to exercise it, it’s easier to talk about compassion than it is to give away the money you’ve worked hard for, and it’s definitely easier to talk about financial stewardship than it is to stop yourself from buying things that you don’t really need. It’s a constant struggle. But it CAN get easier.

This is what I’ve learned: when I need to practice what I preach, I need to be honest with myself and admit that I need other people. Sometimes I need a leader for direction when I’m lost and confused, a mentor for guidance when my blind spots are getting me into trouble, a co-worker for support when I’m feeling overwhelmed, a teammate for their ability to do what I cannot do, or a friend who can pray for me when I feel like giving up. Different problems, different roles, one important truth: it gets easier when I open myself to other people.

But what does that look like? How does that work on a practical level?

I’m a big fan of taking baby steps. In this case, I would probably start by being honest with myself that I need someone to talk to, then I would find that person, then I would say these three simple words:

“I need help.”

I think it’s the fear of rejection, or the fear of feeling vulnerable or powerless that stops people from saying these words. I know that these fears have stopped me time and time again. But I also know that each time that I swallowed my pride, put aside my fears, and said those words out loud, grace followed–and flowed–and I had no regrets. Well, that’s not entirely true. Most of the time, I regret not asking for help earlier. :)

Who are the people or what are the strategies that have helped you practice what you preach? Do share!

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