Part of my training as a writer included the advice to use strong verbs and to use them in the active voice rather than the passive. My Pro Writing Aid, which checks English usage and promotes better writing, will highlight any passive verbs and suggest active alternatives.
At a recent retreat, I re-read the Peace Prayer of St Francis.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The second stanza compares the difference between the active and passive voice. The Christian is seeking to actively take the initiative in consoling, understanding,, loving, giving, pardoning and dying.
Of course, this is not the full picture of the Christian life. We, who are led by the Spirit, must guard against leading instead of being led, although we must submit rather than be submitted to.
And then there is Paul’s passive injunction, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV)
Lord, please guide me as to when I must be active and when I must be passive. I know that You are more interested in who I am than what I do, but what I do often flows from who I am. Please refine my character, making me more like Christ every day. Amen.