Setting the Example

Originally posted by Mike Young August 2005

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Paul the apostle was a mentor to young Timothy. In his first letter to Timothy he wrote, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” I Timothy 4:12 I love the first statement in that verse. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. We’ve all experienced that before. We have felt, at some time in our lives that we were not valued because we were young.

In this case, Timothy is not a child, but a young pastor, apprenticed to Paul. Paul knew that Timothy’s leadership, effectiveness and spiritual authority would be called into question by others in the New Testament church. Timothy was encouraged by Paul to stand tall. Even if others had doubts, he could gain their confidence and effectively lead them by living an exemplary life.

Have you considered and shared with your children the power of a positive example?

I want my children to understand the significant responsibility they have to be an example to others. I remind them occasionally that others are watching them, and will observe and respond to their example. No, I don’t expect others will fall in line behind them and do what they do. However, my desire is that they would each conduct themselves rightly in such a way that others notice. (Sometimes this backfires and they are noticed for their misbehavior rather than their good behavior. If your family is like mine, there are many opportunities to correct misbehavior and practice good behavior. Thankfully, we have a number of years to shape and mold them.)

Have you challenged your children to set an example for others in the way they:

  • Share toys and take turns?
  • Speak to their friends with kindness and elders with respect?
  • Encourage their friends and siblings appropriately?
  • Help others whenever they can?
  • Respond appropriately to teachers, church leaders and other adults?
  • Speak up when spoken to?

If they practice these and other appropriate behaviors, people of all ages and backgrounds will respect their maturity, manners, helpfulness and friendliness. Unfortunately, they aren’t born knowing these behaviors. They have to be taught, by us. The responsibility is yours and mine. We have to be worthy examples for our children to follow. If they emulate you, will they learn right behavior? More significantly, could your daughter look at you and know what qualities to look for in a husband? Will your son become the man God wants him to be by following your example? Will others, whom you may not know are watching, learn how to handle difficult situations because they’ve seen you do it with grace?

Wow! Those are sobering thoughts. And now it comes to this, Who is your example? Who are you patterning your life after? Make sure you aren’t following another man too closely. Humans make mistakes. The good news is we have another option.

We should all desire to say what Paul said to the Corinthian church… Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ. I Corinthians 11:1

Mike Young
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