Monday, June 6, 2011

Show Don't Tell

For those who don’t know, I love to write. In the past year and a half, I’ve written two novels. While writing the second, I’ve also begun to educate myself. Wow! There is a whole lot about the publishing world that I did not know. I also joined a critique group of writers who can tear apart my story and help me learn this wonderful craft in the hopes of one day being published. One phrase I hear over and over is “Show Don’t Tell.”

Show Don’t Tell, or SDT, is quite a buzz phrase in the writing world. It’s the difference between:

“Jack was angry.”
“Jack’s eyes narrowed into slits and his hands clenched at his sides.”

Now, that’s a very basic example, but put quite simply, the first sentence tells you Jack’s state of mind, the second one shows it. In doing this, a writer’s story deepens and pulls you farther into their character's world. The story becomes more vibrant, and you feel like you’re almost in their character’s skin. It made me think…

Isn’t this what we are supposed to do as Christians? Rather than walking around, telling people we are a Christ follower, shouldn’t we be showing them? We need to make our lives vibrant with His love, deepen our stories so that He spills out from them and people cannot help but see God in us. Anyone can say they are a Christian, but it’s when we show it that people truly see who He is—and want more of Him.

So, let’s start showing others Christ. Don’t just tell your neighbor where you go to church, invite them. Don’t just tell your hurting friend you’ll pray for them, hold their hand and pray. Don’t just talk about how there are hungry people in your city, volunteer at a shelter and feed them. Ask God where He wants to use you, then go out and show His love to this hurting world. I absolutely love how The Message writes out Matthew 5:14-16:

Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Yes, we need to tell people about His love...but they will never listen if we don't show them first. So get out there and Show Don’t (simply) Tell.

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