Wednesday, October 28, 2015


 I first became acquainted with the "What Would Jesus Do?" movement in the late 1990's when golfer Payne Stewart wore the letters in a bracelet.  Turns out, I was about one hundred years late!  In 1896 Rev. Charles M. Sheldon published a book called In His Steps.   It was a huge, best seller at the time.  Although the author made almost no money from the book, he  delighted in the fact that so many people read his message of living a life as Christ would.
    Over the years several authors wrote adaptations of In His Steps and in 1997 Garret W. Sheldon, the great grandson of Charles Sheldon wrote What Would Jesus Do?, a contemporary version of his ancestor's original book.  
    When I began the book, I wasn't sure I'd like it, the writing style is reminiscent of 1960's Sunday School leaflets, but I soon became so fascinated with the characters and their tales that my inner editor fell away.  The story, this is fiction, concerns the minister of a large, well-off congregation who realizes that his church is "successful"  in secular terms but failing in its duty to model Christ to the community around them.  So he and a number of his congregation take a pledge to live their lives in accordance with Jesus' teachings.  Every time they must make a decision they ask first "what would Jesus do?"  The results are amazing and disconcerting.
     For example, attendance at church drops, but attendance at the after-church meetings of those taking the pledge goes up.  A TV station decides not to air questionable programming or advertising.   A store keeper removes pornography, tobacco and liquor from his shelves. 
    Living "What Would Jesus Do?" has consequences, some welcome, some more difficult.  
    In real life,  those who knew Payne Stewart noticed a real change in him as he took those words to heart.  He was still competitive, still passionate about the game, but his relationships were marked with increased thoughtfulness.  His devotions were deeper, more sincere, and he seemed a man at peace.
    In an ironic twist of fate, the woman who first created jewellery, t-shirts, and other items with the initials WWJD on them was also denied a profit from her invention.  Like Charles Sheldon, Janie Tinklenberg wanted to use her creations to teach young people, to remind them of their faith.  But commercial interests soon realized the value of her little trinkets and turned it into a multi-million dollar industry.  Tinklenberg was denied a copyright for her slogan and WWJD showed up on all kinds of stuff, even when the item bearing the inscription seemed to contradict the message.

    For myself, I'm glad I've read the book.  I don't have the bracelet, nor do I want one, but the phrase sits quietly in my subconscious, nudging me, discomfiting me, encouraging me.  When life hands me a difficult problem, asking "What Would Jesus Do?" makes the decision clearer -- not easier, but clearer.

    What about you, dear readers?  Have you used WWJD in real life to make a hard choice?

Alice Valdal is a romance writer from British Columbia, Canada. 
Check out her blog at  She often shares historical tidbits she's found in her research

She has published western historical romance, contemporary romance and a book of Christmas Short Stories.  Find them all here


  1. Interesting! I don't have any WWJD jewellery either, but it is a good question to ask as a check-up on how closely we're following Him and how Christ-like we are in our everyday lives. Wondering if a bracelet would help me remember to ask myself that question more often!

    1. My minister suggests putting on your car visor, since many of us are prone to invective about other drivers on the road.

    2. Such a simple thing: What Would Jesus Do? So powerful in its simplicity. If you ask that one question, it's fairly easy to know what's the spiritual choice and what's the carnal choice in any given situation. I've been thinking about this post for days. Thank you, Alice V.

    3. You're welcome. Don't forget that Jesus went to weddings and had lots of friends. WWJD? doesn't condemn us to only the hard stuff in life. :-)