"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children..." Ephesians 5:1 (KJV)
Someone is stepping into the footprints we are leaving behind.
One day, I heard Zachary say, "Daddy, you're my hero. I want to be just like you!" It touched my heart, because there is no one on earth I would rather he would pattern himself after than his Daddy. Kevin is the kindest, most gentle, and in every way the best man I know. I am so thankful Zachary wants to be just like him.
As I listened to Zachary talk, I realized what a monumental responsibility it to is to have someone want to be "just like us." No matter who we are, we are influencing someone. Our actions are having an impact on at least one other person. We are teaching by our example, whether good or bad. Especially, if we are parents. Our children look up to us. We are their role models; it automatically comes with the territory.
Nothing in my life has ever helped me as much spiritually, as having a child. Not long after he was born, I remember rocking Zachary one day and looking down at him, realizing that I was responsible for his spiritual training. Never mind all of the other responsiblities of parenting; this one left me feeling the most overwhelmed. How would he be most strongly taught? It would be by the example Kevin and I set before him...just by our lives lived in front of him every day. "More lessons are caught than taught" and "Children learn what they live"...how true!
As a homeschooling Mama, I feel the weight of making sure Zach receives a complete and adequate education. I worry that something may be omitted that he will really need someday. I try hard to give him a good balance and not let my personal opinion of certain subjects affect the way he learns. I take it very seriously and place strong emphasis on the huge responsibility of homeschooling our child. But, what if I am falling short on him seeing a true, living example of Jesus Christ? How could he be better introduced to Him than by seeing his Mama and Daddy presenting Jesus in a real Christian life every day? Whew! May God have mercy and help me where I fall so short!
No man is an island...whether a parent or not. I love the saying that says, "To the world you may be just someone; but to someone, you are the world." Having Zachary makes me strive to be a better person...a better Christian. And now I ask, who motivates YOU? Take a mental assessment of the people in your life and evaluate your performance. Does your daily example point them to be better? To be more like Jesus Christ? It isn't easy to take an honest look in the mirror, but it is necessary.
One day when our children are grown, if we live long enough, we will see what they become. And no doubt, we will recognize fragments and effects of ourselves mirrored in them. Will we be proud or ashamed? These are hard thoughts to think, but they are important. The Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 11:1 (KJV), "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." As adults, we can distinguish between whether or not someone we admire is following Christ and whether it is safe for us to follow their example. Our children automatically follow us without realizing they need to make that distinction. While they are still formative, we can change the outcome and prevent regrets.
Dad used to tell me when he was correcting me that a child is like a twig planted in the ground. It is bendable, and whatever direction it is bent as a twig will determine the direction it grows as a tree. He and Mom had to "straighten" my behavior many times. I'm really glad they did.