“One …two …four!”
Mum was about to correct my counting when I continued, “aren’t you glad I didn’t say three?”
You can probably guess that the old count to three was one of our family’s discipline strategies. And here my lucky dolls were getting a reprieve by me not saying three before they had a chance to rectify their behaviour.
Most learning for children happens by modelling and mimicking. They learn language, counting, basic life skills (like dressing and eating) all by watching adults and older children. This is also true about intangibles like attitude and character.
As front row audience members to the day to day lives of their parents, family and friends, they absorb something of their values, morals and ethics. This is largely positive, except for the part where they pick up on the inconsistencies between our speech and behaviour or where they accurately mirror attitudes or tendencies of which we are unaware or not proud.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Phil 4:9
Paul says, “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realised.” (The MSG)
Now, I’m completely ok with people putting into practice what they learned from me. I am an intentional leader and teacher. They’re hopefully learning some good gear! But what you hear, see and realise or observe? I’m not so sure all of that is ideally replicated.
Whilst I think Paul is a little nuts to make this declaration, I like what it demonstrates of the recognition that he was a person of influence and authority and that with such privilege came a high degree of responsibility. He was aware. He knew that beyond what he said, people would be looking at what he was doing and saying.
How about for us? If others are repeating our speech, what do they sound like? If they’re adopting our values, what are they like as a citizen, a friend, a worker, a family member? If they were to give like we give, would they be generous? If they were to accept and include like we do, would they be non-judgmental and embracing? If they were to extend grace as we do, would they be first to apologise and quick to forgive?
Everything you’ve heard and seen and realised.
Our response to this ought not be one of condemnation and guilt but conviction and inspiration.
We don’t get to choose IF we influence but we do get to choose how and to what.