The Timeless Influence of Example

With wide-eyed enthusiasm and a hand clutching a host of wealth, almost daily my 2nd grade son bounds into the house with items he found on the floor of the bus.  Consisting of anything from half-used erasers, discarded dime-store toys, or the occasional lost Lego piece, he proudly presents them to us, the result of his keen eye and ever-aware mind.  For those who know me, I similarly enjoy poring over other people’s discarded household items, looking for the untapped properties of usefulness that were most likely overlooked by the previous owner.  My “resourcefulness” knows no bounds as not only do many of these riches adorn my house, but I’ve even furnished an entire stage production with lawn-tossed furniture.  So it should come as no surprise when, at an elementary school event, my son’s eye flickered over to something colorful and interesting on the floor.  He quickly bent down to pick it up, inspected it closely, dismissed it as not worth his efforts, and put it back.  I turned to my wife and laughed about how he picks up garbage in an attempt at treasure-seeking, to which she responded, “Well, where do you think he gets that from?”  What’s even more amusing is where I got it from.  As a child, my father and I would wait for what was dubbed “Clean-Up Week” in our town, a twice annual celebration of junk where homeowners could put anything and everything at the curb.  With flashlights firmly fixed in hands, we marched to our empty station wagon that would quickly fill up, much to my mother’s dismay.  As you can see, it’s a trait that’s been passed down through generations, whether purposefully or inadvertently.  Parents and authority figures, whether we like it or not, have strong influences on the younger generation, one of which the scripture writers were also aware.  There is an explicit responsibility for parents and teachers to bring up children in the correct way, but there is also an unspoken almost subconscious teaching that occurs in that same relationship.  Proverbs 20.7 writes: “The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.”  This verse leads us to believe that there is a cause and effect between the righteous ones’ choices and their children’s outcome.  We as Christians, by following God’s intended plan and path, heap blessings on those that we influence, thus giving us a responsibility to follow in His ways.  When we choose not to, we are not only negatively affecting our own lives, but also the lives of those who look to us for example.  As a teacher, I warn my students that they will end up being just like their parents, a song usually accompanied to the tune of groaning with a chorus of eye-rolling, but the truth is that they are destined to follow in their ways.  As parents and teachers, we can’t help but influence our children and students.  But where we falter is when we fail to put our best example and efforts forward, thinking that no one notices or will be subjected to and influenced by it.  When we choose to follow Christ, although He may take our yoke upon Himself, we also put upon ourselves a yoke of example and instruction: we directly influence those around us.  This week, take a good look around you as to who is watching.  Be keen and observant, looking for those who look to you for example.  More than likely, there are more than you think there are.  Then, because your impact is great, walk in His ways for their sake.  Following is the best form of leadership you can model.  Amen.

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