5 ways to be a doer (…and not just a hearer)

by Olivia Sultenfuss

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
-James 1:21-25

A few years ago I sat in my typical seat in church and felt the doors to my soul open within as I listened to the sermon. The sermon wasn’t anything outrageously new, but what was new was the sudden reflection of my life. As I observed my life in those quick few minutes during church, I realized how easy it is to listen and hear the Words of the Gospel, but fail to act upon those precious words. It’s so easy to become instilled in a daily routine of routines and schedules and not making room for God. Since my revelation I have taken the task of being a doer, as James calls it, seriously and I’m in awe of the impact it makes on my life and on the lives of others.  Through the study of God’s Word and prayer, below are some of the observations I’ve found on how to follow the road to being a doer and not just a hearer.

1. Prepare your heart and be open.

It’s so easy to get into the daily Bible grind and never, once, truly pounce on what we’re learning or reading: get up, pour a cappuccino (or three), personal devotional of  fifteen minutes, write down some thoughts, put Bible on shelf, carry on with the morning . . . is this really what we limit ourselves and God to? Are we missing out on multiple opportunities because we haven’t prepared our hearts to be open and receptive? Shy away from a daily spiritual grind, seek God for opportunities to become a doer and invest in the lives of those around you.

2. Be willing and available.

Part of extending your hands in compassion and love is actually having a willing heart. Unfortunately, having a heart willing for love and sharing the Gospel isn’t just an “on/off” switch. It has to be transformed and cultivated by the same Gospel. If you are serious about becoming a doer and an action man/woman, pray for a willing heart.

We all know that person, or perhaps we are that person, who has great intentions of ministering to others, but is far too busy with a complex schedule to be available.  There could be any number of reasons for a lack of availability, but I think we’re all thankful that Jesus didn’t turn away the paralyzed or the ill because of a conflicting schedule or a lack of availability. Such an attitude might have caused trauma to His ministry—so if you’re serious about Christ and your serious about acting upon your faith—make yourself available. Reach out and mean it—don’t just say it. If you offer to meet a struggling peer for coffee to talk, do it. If you see someone in need, address the problem or find the right person to address the problem (i.e. pastor, carpenter, doctor).

3. Prepare to be uncomfortable.

Just know that being a doer can be difficult, confusing, unpleasant, and uncomfortable. It can mean getting messy, seeing the side of people that is unpleasant, experiencing sadness, seeing the dirt  and the sins of humanity, and become all too aware of our personal shortcomings. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Haiti on a missions trip, I was never more aware of my ever growing list of shortcomings. Often, while doing Kingdom work our capacity of comfort, faith, and humility are tested—it’s like a game of Survivor with an eternal focus. We have to become prepared to be uncomfortable in some shape or form, but not allow it to deter us from carrying on in faith. However, there are great joys and luminous revelations while being a doer, but we must be prepared to hold out for those moments while in the midst of being uncomfortable.

4. Don’t wait.

Being doers can mean traveling across the globe to extend compassion and the love of Jesus or it can mean traveling to your backyard to the neighbor who is battling cancer. It’s not about the distance, it’s about the Message. Location isn’t relative, the issue at hand is that we are demonstrating compassion and spreading the Gospel. We’re called to share Christ’s love and we’re called to glorify Him (Matthew 28:19). We’re called to care. We’re called to protect, defend, and care for the defenseless, the poor, and the abandoned. It doesn’t matter where.

Demonstrating love and compassion can be done right now—the opportunities are limitless. We live in a world of darkness, just take a look around and be stunned by the abundant opportunities that await you.

Being a doer starts in the home. It starts in the work place. It starts in the Church. It starts with relationships. It starts with the grumpy neighbor, disgruntled cashier, or the unpleasant individual who just stole my parking spot (while I had my blinker on, I might add!). It starts here. Compassion starts now. If we think that we have to travel overseas to extend compassion or love, I’m afraid that we’re missing out multiple opportunities that are staring us right smack in the face.

People are people. We all need the same thing, we all need Jesus desperately. You can make a difference here, and you can make a difference there. It’s not really relative to where you are geographically, God’s love and compassion needs to be spread just as much in Baltimore City as it does in India. His love needs to be spread in a nursing home just as much as it does in an orphanage. Don’t wait for an opportunity, just because you don’t think it’s the opportunity you would choose. Don’t become discouraged when you feel like your impact isn’t as great as you would hope—it’s not about us. It’s about Him. Don’t waste an opportunity to become a doer out of pride—take a leap of faith.

5. Listen and love.

Be a hearer and a doer. It’s far easier said than done, but it’s a goal worth aiming for. Many of the people I know have come to Christ from visually seeing the works of Christians in action. We can talk all day long using Christianese and spiritual terms, but until there is evidence in our lives that we mean what we say, we might find we have trouble connecting with others in an effective manner. Become amazed at how God can work in your life when you give Him a heart ready for action.


Olivia is a 20-something farm girl who enjoys sunshine, coffee by the cups, Haiti, and Jesus (not in order of preference). Her greatest passion in life is to serve Jesus by serving others and enjoys sharing about her recent missions trips to Haiti and other travels on the road to the Cross on her blog, Reviving the Soul. You can reach her via email at [email protected].


  1. This was excellent, I too Teach Bible Study and this message has really helped me to see opportunities can be uncomfortable as well.

  2. I thank you for your article. I am using your 5 points as materials on single ministry teaching.
    Have a glorious day. Peace be with you.

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