When you were a kid, did you ever pick up on some of your teacher’s habits?
Every day, throughout the day, my 3rd grade teacher would be snacking on a big bag of Rold Gold pretzels. Never before (or after) that year of school had I desired pretzels so badly. I had my mom buy me a bag of Rold Gold pretzels from the grocery store so I could eat them during snack time at school, and when I played teacher at home I would have a bowl of them handy to munch on while my “classroom” (aka, my stuffed animals) worked on multiplication problems (I was a very… imaginative child). So did I really love pretzels? Not really… They kind of made my mouth dry! BUT, I admired my teacher so much that I wanted to do whatever it was that she was doing! While reflecting on this the other day, I couldn’t help but wonder… Is this the kind of impact our older youth could have on younger kids in the church?
“Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality, whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public.” | Epictetus
Whether we like to admit it or not, every one of us is following the example of somebody. Even those who defiantly believe they are “their own person” got the very idea to be unique from someone else. It’s also important for each of us to understand that whether we realize it or not, we may be setting an example for someone without knowing it! My pretzel-loving 3rd grade teacher never knew that I practically bought stock in Rold Gold because she ate them during class, but that’s something I’ll never forget! Likewise, how many kids in our churches are picking up on some of our own habits? How many of them remember things we’ve done that we didn’t even realize they noticed?
Right now, I bet some of you are thinking about all the times you may have set a bad example for someone younger than you. Stop that!! I did the same thing, and it doesn’t do any good to let ourselves sink in guilt because of what happened in the past. Focus on what you can start doing today. What are small things that you can do to encourage a younger person in your life? There isn’t something GRAND you have to do in order to make this happen… It could very well be shown through small gestures and even without words at times!
“If we say we live in God, we must live the way Jesus lived.” | 1 John 2:6 (paraphrased)
There is no one in this whole entire world who is a more perfect example to follow than Jesus Christ. Need proof of this? Check the Bible out for yourself, and read about the way He lived. No wonder we’re constantly being encouraged to be “Christ-minded.” He is the best possible example that has ever been, and ever will be!
We’ve got a pretty awesome opportunity ahead of us, folks. There’s a whole group of younger kids who need good role models in their lives. And I’m willing to bet that showing them the value of good character, teaching them how to serve others well, and encouraging them to be as Christ-like as they can be will go a much longer way than a little bag of Rold Gold pretzels.