S40P5 – To raise a child: live the example

1 Cor. 4:14-16

I do not write these things to shame you, but to warn and advise you as my beloved children. For even if you were to have ten thousand teachers in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the good news. So I urge you, be imitators of me.

When I was growing up, it was the age of drug and alcohol prevention. I recall clubs and organizations in elementary school where we learned to stay away from alcohol and illegal drugs and even cigarettes. During that time, there was a commercial that often ran during primetime television. In this commercial, a father confronts his adolescent son with a small shoe box. The son removes his headphones, and the father opens the shoe box. Inside the box is drug paraphernalia. The father asks who taught him to do those things. The son responds with a line that I will always remember, “I learned it from watching you.” Simple yet compelling, it drove home the message that children imitate those they respect and admire.

Some of us are parents, and we are very conscious that our children will be shaped by how we speak and act. Some of us are teachers, and we know that our students will look to us for direction on how they should behave. Others of us may not have regular and direct interactions with specific children, so we may not realize that we might be watched by a little one who is learning from us. Whatever the case, there will be children who look to us as examples of Christian men and women. We must be conscious of this in the way we comport ourselves daily. Sometimes the children who imitate us are not physically young but just spiritually young. The point is that we should live our lives as if we aim to be an example for the young to follow. After all, we are to be imitators of Christ ourselves, and that should show.

Each of us has been a physical child as well as a spiritual child. We know what it is like to seek those who are more mature who can show us what we should strive to be. Even when there is no one around to see or hear us, perhaps we should consider how we would behave if there were someone there imitating us. It should be our desire to set a good example for anyone who might not know what it looks like to live this Christian life faithfully. It should be our desire to impart life to the children with whom we interact. Let us be mindful that even the simplest words and actions can speak volumes. Father, thank You that You trust us to show others how to live the Christian life, and make us aware of the children who look to us as examples.