August 18
Example is not the main thing in
influencing others—it is the only thing.

Albert Schweitzer


Today's Meditation:

Very often in our modern cultures we learn that we can influence people best through the use of words or manipulation.  Usually we find that our influence in such cases is fleeting, at best.  If we've used words or manipulation, as soon as we're out of the picture, the people whom we've affected start to doubt themselves and the message that they've received.  "Something's not right," they think, and that's true.  Such influence simply isn't authentic, especially if we say one thing and then turn around and do something else.

Our most important influence is on children, for we can help them to grow up to be happy individuals who contribute to society--but only if we provide them with strong positive examples that they can see regularly.  They are incredibly perceptive, a fact that we tend to forget, and they learn more from our examples than they do from our words or our threats. 

Many people in positions of authority feel that it's enough that they tell their subordinates to do things, and they don't feel that it's important that they follow their own mandates.  But if I want to have an office or a factory or a restaurant of hard workers who are kind to others, then I need to be a hard worker who is kind to others myself.  If I treat my subordinates poorly, they'll tend to treat others poorly, without kindness or dignity or respect.  If I criticize my daughter or son or start arguments, it's obvious what kind of example I'm setting for my grandchildren.

All of our decisions should include at least the question, "What kind of example would I be giving to a child here?"  When we decide to break a law by speeding or talking on a cell phone while driving, we're setting an example.  When we fasten our seat belts and follow the rules of the road and drive courteously, we're also setting an example.  And someone sees it--even if it's only ourselves.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of examples do you wish to set for young people?  For your own children or grandchildren?

Why do most people not think about the idea that they're always providing examples, no matter what they're doing?

How might we go about making sure that the examples that we're setting are positive and helpful? 

For further thought:
If you as parents cut corners, your children will too.  If you lie,
they will too. If you spend all your money on yourselves and tithe
no portion of it for charities, colleges, churches, synagogues, and
civic causes, your children won't either.  And if parents snicker
at racial and gender jokes, another generation will pass on
the poison adults still have not had the courage to snuff out.

Marian Wright Edelman

More thoughts and ideas on role models.


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