What They See Is What They’ll Be
My Dad smoked cigarettes for 20 years and didn’t quit until the age of 32. If you’re doing the math in your head right now than you’ve realized he started smoking when he was 12 years old. Both of his parents smoked cigarettes but made sure to tell him that he should never do it himself. Obviously his parents “do as I say, not as I do” parenting didn’t carry much authority. It wasn’t until years later when he became a Christian that he realized this addiction had to go.
A very basic leadership principle is the idea of “what they see is what they’ll be.” The 12 disciples were radically different guys after spending 3 ½ years with Jesus. How they saw Jesus live impacted their own lives forever and motivated them to live in a similar way. As followers of Jesus 2000 years after his time on earth, we have the unique opportunity to model what it means to be fully committed disciples. The biggest challenge to this is in setting our priorities.
Jesus really was counter-culture. He didn’t look like the King the Jews were expecting. He didn’t act religious enough for the religious leaders of his day to accept him. He put God’s priorities above everything else in his life and he radically changed the world. An integral part of evaluating our priorities is asking ourselves tough questions.
Do I spend more time watching TV than I do with my kids? Do I spend more time in recreational activities than I do in deepening my faith in Jesus? Do I model something contrary to what I say? Ouch. When I am bold enough to ask myself these types of questions the answers can be pretty humbling.
As parents, your kids are watching you to see if this whole Christian thing is more than a set of rules, rituals, and religious morality. They notice when you’re in the word, when you’re worshiping with all your heart on Sunday morning, and when your faith exists for more than an hour on Sunday morning. In a culture of so many competing voices, what you do, not what you say, will always be the loudest voice your kids hear.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.