What’s More Important, Your Words or Your Actions? Before you give it too much thought, see if you can guess who said these famous words below.
"Today Christianity stands at the head of this country…I pledge that I will never tie myself to those who want to destroy Christianity…We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit – we want to burn out all the recent immoral development in literature, theater, the arts, and in the press…
In short, we want to burn out the poison of immortality which has entered into our whole life and culture because of liberal excess the past…few years."
Who comes to mind? Maybe Martin Luther King Jr, the Rev Billy Graham, or maybe even a politician? Whatever your answer, you are most likely wrong.These words are Adolf Hitler’s. And more specifically they were crafted by his minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels who knew his audience and exactly the words they needed to hear to support Hitler. It’s deception at its core. Even if Christianity isn’t your belief these words sound like they come from a man of character and morality, and in a second the listener is fooled.Fast forward a few decades and we find in our own life words consume us more than ever. We wake up and our inbox is flooded, and our mind is consumed with our social media feeds.These endless sentences have the power to shape culture and shape our lives, influencing how we think and how we act. We read a statement or hear a speech, and assume those words are backed by character and good intentions and maybe they are, but maybe they aren’t. As I read through Hitler’s quote again and again, I wondered if I would have been fooled by his clever play on words, and his persuasiveness to a better life.In reality, statistics show that the majority of us would have been fooled, as you only have to read Ordinary Men by Browning to realize how quickly one might fall into thinking Hitler was one of the greats on a mission to do good.It’s sobering and it should be sobering.
The first question we must always ask is the inward one.
- Where am I being deceived?
- What words aren’t matching my actions in my own life?
The work on your inner life is some of the greatest work you’ll ever do.
As James Russell Lowell said, “No one can produce great things who is not thoroughly sincere in dealing with himself.”
Your words matter, but sometimes I wonder how much more our actions tell a deeper story. Take a week and just observe what you do, what you don’t do, and why you choose what you choose. Hitler should not only bring us to our knees but also take us straight to the mirror where we observe the full weight of who we are.