"What Would Jesus Do?" This question appeared as the subtitle of a novel written by a Congregationalist minister in 1896 named Charles Sheldon. (The title was, "In His Steps.") The associated history given in Wikipedia traces the concept further back, by implication at least, to John Wesley in 1766. A modernized version of Sheldon's novel, in which this question of WWJD leads people to alter their Christian behavior and take certain aspects of Christian belief more seriously, was released by Garrett Sheldon, (Charles' great-grandson) and a co-author in 1993.
As a phrase, as a concept and even as a movement, the use of this question, "What Would Jesus Do?", has birthed Sheldon's novel, Walter Rauschenbusch's "Social Gospel" theology, (which Charles Sheldon quite happily associated himself with), at least one movie and multiple websites. I don't think it's going to go away.
I have always felt the question itself to be misleading. That's why I inserted the "HM" in brackets above. Since I first encountered the use of "WWJD?" as a motivation tool, I have felt it should be "WWJHMD?" - "What Would Jesus Have Me Do?" Is this a minor, pedantic difference? No.
Although some have indeed done great things in Christ's name by faith, I still see an enormous difference between Jesus Christ's capabilities and my own, or any human being's. More importantly, though, I believe there are things Jesus had the authority to do as the Son of God which we do not. Were I to find myself on a small boat in rough weather, I would not expect to be able to say to the wind and the waves, "Peace, be still," and achieve what the Lord did with those words. If a friend were in that situation, I would not expect to be able to walk on water to rescue him or her. Even the apostle Paul, who was known in the book of Acts to have healed many people and raised at least two people, (Dorcas and Eutychus), from the dead, found himself plagued with a "thorn in the flesh" and at least once reported he had to leave someone behind him sick. There are times when the question, "What would Jesus do?", is not the answer to, "What should I do?", because I am either not able or not authorized or empowered to do what the Son of God would and could do in that situation.
I am very aware of what Jesus said about faith like a small mustard seed being able to move mountains. Whether I understand yet what he meant is another question. My misunderstandings about this when I was younger helped lead me into an interest in psychic phenomena, which I now regard as a "back door" to the occult. I was not then a Christian, had not confessed I was a sinner by nature and could only be saved through Jesus Christ's work on the Cross, and did not have the Holy Spirit's illumination in spiritual matters. It doesn't surprise me that I misunderstood it. I think that such promises must be put in the context of asking things in prayer and faith within God's will. If I had the faith that a mountain could be moved and God wanted it to stay put, He would win.
Hudson Taylor, the well-known Christian missionary to China, expressed it well, I think: "God's work done God's way will never lack God's supply." It may not have the same poetic rhythm and cadence to ask, "What Would Jesus Have Me Do?" There's no question that the four words, "What Would Jesus Do?", have a potent four-beat rhythm that the longer phrase lacks. On the other hand, taking that additional time may remind me to take a deep breath and remember who He is, and that I believe He is still living and always with me and able to direct me through His Holy Spirit if I have the humility to listen. The prophet Samuel told King Saul, "Obedience is better than sacrifice." There is great appeal to the idea of being able to step out in faith and see God enable a great work for Him. Stepping out in faith and obedience is even better. Before the Apostle Peter set foot out of the boat, he asked Jesus to tell him to come to Him on the water. I would rather obey Jesus' directions than try to imitate Him of my own accord.
(See "About Me")