2017-06-20 - Role Models
When our church resettled a refugee family from Congo, I was the leader of the missions committee, and during their first couple years in America, the family spent a lot of time in my car. I had the honor of taking the family to such appointments as weekly TB checks, English classes, to the children's first dental appointments, and to the father's work until he had driver's license and was given a good used car. He studied very hard for the exam, which even fluent English speakers usually find challenging - including myself because of spatial questions. I was quite impressed that he was able to pass that test in a new language. But I was a little concerned about the upcoming road test, given by the Highway Patrol. You see, even though he was 40 years old, he had never driven a car in his life. In their area of Congo, they were so poor that they had no electricity, no medical care and naturally, no luxuries such as cars. Another church member took him to a parking lot and let him steer her car around it, to get the feel of a car. When the big day of the road test arrived, I think that I was as nervous as he was! I waited "on pins and needles" until he returned. He told me something curious. "The police officer said I did a great job on everything but stop signs. He said that I stop too far back at stoplights and signs." I puzzled over it awhile, and then to my shock, I realized that he got that from me! You see, when Richard and I started dating, we were once hit head-on by a careless driver, as we helplessly sat at a stop sign. So probably half-subconsciously, I have always tended to stop the car a few feet back. I didn't even know it at the time it was happening, but the dad had constantly watched my driving, and had picked up my habits, both good and bad! I didn't realize that I was a role model.
I was recently fondly remembering this experience, when I realized that this probably happens to all of us in our Christian walk, as well. I remember that one time at the prosecutor's office where I worked, a co-worker told me "I want to go to church with you, because I want to see the place that turns out people like you - kind, hardworking, a good work ethic and not at all gossipy. I want to be like you." And she did attend and later join the church. To say that I was floored by all this would be an understatement. I was humbled, and also felt that it was very undeserved. But it did us both good, because from then on, I was even more conscious that people are always watching us, even when we don't realize it. I started thinking about everything that I said and did, and I know that would be an edifying habit for all of us.
When I was attending youth group, we learned an old saying: "You may be the only Bible some people read." I'm not sure that is technically accurate, since in our culture, everyone has free access to Bibles, and many people are exposed to the Bible and the Gospel, via a variety of sources - from childhood Sunday School to the Charlie Brown Christmas Specials. © But certainly, if we identify ourselves as Christians, our behavior and words will affect non-believers' opinions of the Christian faith, their openness to faith in Christ, and for believers we will either strengthen or weaken their spiritual growth.
Titus 2:1-6 (MSG) Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.
I hope that you will join me in asking God to help me to always be aware of the effects that my Christian walk has on others, and to guide me in being a more Christlike role model.