The Army has long held up the paradigm of Be-Know-Do as reflecting what a leader should embody. (See FM 6-22 if you’re interested.) In my re-reading of it the other day, it is merely used as three categories of “stuff” for leaders to focus on.
Unfortunately, some take “Be-Know-Do” as a progression. I have heard this idea held up not only in the military, but more predominantly, in the church. The idea is that sanctification is an “inside job.” If we sit around in church long enough, the Holy Spirit will somehow affect an ontological change within us and we will be Christians. Then we will (dare I say magically?) know what we are to know and do what we are to do.
This is not a terribly effective method of discipleship, so we try to help the Spirit along a bit by concentrating on the “know” part in our church services. The sermon is the central point of a great many worship services, though the information given is rarely very instructive on what to do. Many in the church have become so averse to anything that might hint at “works righteousness” that we avoid advocating all righteous work. This leads to us trying to instruct backwards from almost every other institution.
Let us go back to the military example. Consider the brand new private who arrives at basic training. In a sense, he is already a soldier. He has signed the contract and sworn the oath. But that is the only sense in which he is a soldier. He spends the next 9 weeks being told what to do by his drill sergeants. He will then go to advanced individual training and be told more things to do in order to fulfill his particular role in the army.
Along the way, our soldier starts to learn some of these things and he knows them—how to march, when to salute, how to wear the uniform, how to handle his weapon, etc. Eventually—how long varies—he might be a soldier. What does that mean? He thinks, acts, and speaks like the army wants him to. He has internalized all this doing and knowing to the point where it is part of who he is. Some soldiers never get to this point, or not fully. They serve their time merely doing, and to some extent knowing, but they always keep soldiering at arm’s length in their heart.
Consider the church, not the contemporary version today, but the historic church. A person comes into a service. They are led in what to do. “Please stand.” “Sing.” “Pray.” They are given words to hear and words to say. Over time, the doing and saying start to seep into knowing. Add some catechism of why we do and say these things and the knowing becomes deeper. Eventually, after days and months and maybe even years, the liturgy of the church—the saying and doing of Eucharist and Daily Offices—in conjunction with the inner working of the Holy Spirit causes the being of the person to be altered. Sanctification happens.
Lex orandi, lex crendi. As we pray, so we believe. This is a central component of how Anglicans conduct spiritual formation. It is how we do discipleship. We start not with the head, but the body. Our souls—at least in this life—are wrapped up in bodies. The only way for them to interact with the world is through our flesh. The converse is also true: our souls are shaped by what happens to, and what we do, with our bodies.
Let us not be ashamed to call people to do in the name of Chris——t.