You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips

“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.”

—Oliver Goldsmith, 18th Century Irish Poet

Over the past few years I have gained a great interest in history, with a particular emphasis on the lives of remarkable people who have shared our world.

In his book, The Road to Character, author David Brooks focuses on the deeper values that inform the lives of numerous pivotal figures. I had no knowledge of many of them before reading this book.

Introducing the terms “resumé virtues” and “eulogy virtues,” Brooks points to the external achievement of wealth, fame, and status, comparing them to qualities that lie at the core of our being, such as kindness, bravery, honesty, and faithfulness. How we balance the two types of virtues along our life journey represents the road to character we can choose to navigate and explore.

EXERCISE:

Who are the leaders and special individuals – today, and from the past – that helped you become the person you are today?

What examples did they set through their daily efforts as well as their words?

What sermons are you delivering each day in your personal and professional communities?

Virtue is not left to stand alone

“Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practice it will have neighbors.”

—attributed to Confucius

cartoon of a neighborhood party

Image from KC Parent

How do you stack up as a good neighbor or close friend?

Consider rating yourself from one to ten – with one being low and ten being high – regarding the following attributes of the word, virtue:

  • Goodness
  • Morality
  • Integrity
  • Dignity
  • Honor
  • Decency
  • Respectability
  • Honesty
  • Service-Oriented
  • Ethical

EXERCISE:

How can and will you attract more professional and personal friends and neighbors to yourself by living an even more virtuous life?

Men’s evil manners

“Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.”

—William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Act 4, Scene 2

Image of today's quote

What does it take to build a good reputation? How many virtuous and noble efforts, and what length of time is required to justify recognition?

Conversely, what does it take to build a bad reputation, or to undermine or destroy a good one? How many evil, questionable, or carelessly conceived actions does it take to wipe a slate clear and enter negative territory?

Who do you know that has been permanently labeled or continues to be judged for behaviors from the past where those around them are unable to forget or forgive?

EXERCISE:

What attitude adjustments might be worth considering regarding the virtues and shortcomings of others? How would you like others to view you on these matters?