Sunday, November 9, 2008

An example to follow?

I do a lot of babysitting, and I always find that I have to set an example for the children I babysit. Not too long ago, I was babysitting for three little boys. We decided to take a walk around the neighborhood, so I loaded the youngest into a stroller and let the older two lead the way. While we were walking, the oldest child began telling me a story. I can’t honestly recall what it was about, but I just remember that after he had finished, I remarked that one of the characters had done something dumb, and that the child shouldn’t follow the character’s example. The oldest child’s eyes got wide and he began shaking his finger at me. When I asked him what was the matter, he said, “Mommy says that dumb is a bad word, and we should never say it! Ever!” By then, I realized I had made a mistake and began apologizing. I told him that he was right, and I should never have said that word. When we arrived home, he ran inside yelling, “Mommy! Molly said a bad word! Molly said “dumb”! What should we do with her?” I turned bright red and began stammering an apology, but the mother pulled me aside and said that it was okay, I didn’t know. She said that she just wanted to keep that word out of her boys’ vocabulary for a little while longer. I was embarrassed, but glad the mom wasn’t angry.

Several Sundays ago, my pastor said something that stuck in my head. He was speaking specifically to the fathers in our church, but it applies to me, too. He told the fathers that whatever their children see them doing, they (meaning the children) are more likely to do.

I also need to be careful when I am around young children. I know that there have been several times when I have made a small error, and have been imitated by a child who witnessed my mistake. At moments like this, I realize how much of an influence I have over the people around me, especially children. Although this might make some people feel powerful, it scares me. I didn’t know that the children I work with in the nursery, babysit, or am just around look to me as an example.

The question I must ask is, am I a good example? I know I work hard to be a good influence over everyone I meet, but I wish I didn’t have to work so hard. Honestly, I wish it just came naturally! Titus 2:7-8 has this to say: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” I want to follow this verse to the letter!

I encourage everyone who reads this to examine your own life and see if you are setting an example that you would want other people to follow. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask yourself this question: “Would I follow my own example if I was someone else?” I hope that setting a good example comes easily to you! It is not always easy for me, but I am going to work hard to set a good example all the time.

Join me today in asking this question every day when you wake up: Are you setting an example to be followed?

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