“Do as I say, not as I do.” We are supposed to lead by example. Jesus saw the hypocrisy of the spiritual leaders and warned His listeners not to imitate them. Obviously, there is good example and there is bad example.
Looking back at our childhood—at all the people we admire—they led by example. The folks who made a difference in our life were the teachers who practiced what they preached. From school to government officials to supervisors in the workplace—the mentors in our life who really educated us proved themselves trustworthy. The best lessons in life are not found in a textbook. The best lessons come from people who take the time to walk with us, especially in the areas of life where we have questions. “Why do we have to die?” “Why is their violence in the world?” Often there are no simple answers, just the opportunity to share our own story. In the sharing of the common human struggle, we can form lasting relationships. That’s the way God made us. No person is an island. We discover who we are and the purpose of our life by walking with others. The role of the teacher is to be one step ahead of the student. Doesn’t make the teacher better, just responsible for the guidance of the student. Teachers can learn as they teach. They can learn from their students, just like parents can learn from their children. Since none of us come with instructions, we all learn by making mistakes. Two steps forward, three steps backwards. The challenge is to not get discouraged—to be patient with each other, as God is patient with us.
A person who does not care about others cannot be a teacher. People who have chosen the wrong vocation should have the courage to pick up the pieces, assess the damage, and change to another field. The word teacher and patience should be synonymous. The problem of folks being in the wrong vocation goes way back. Jesus saw the inconsistencies of the scribes and the Pharisees—two different groups of Rabbis—however, both ordained Rabbis. Jesus noticed that they did not care for the people whom they were supposed to guide. They just enjoyed the prestige of their title, the places of honor, and the paycheck they took home. Meanwhile, the vocation to bring people closer to God was being neglected. Jesus said, “Forget about the titles, remember that you are servants. One person is not better than another because of what they do. We are all God’s family, and we are supposed to act like a family.
Interestingly, even families are forgetting how to act like families. “If my husband would just do what I want, all would be well. If my wife would just do what I want, we would have the perfect marriage.” Issues of control divide a home. Lack of forgiveness. Holding on to resentments—all contribute to the alienation of families. Instead of growing in love for each other, families fall apart. Since parents are the first teachers of their children, they set the pace. If they refuse to speak to each other, they are giving a bad example. Remember, children are always watching, always learning. What is important? To be right or to be a humble? The humble will be exalted. Humility does not allow pride to dominate. Pride is the enemy of every relationship. If we have pride in our soul, we stop listening, we stop trying, we refuse to negotiate. The formation of our future starts at home. Parents have the awesome responsibility to model communication for their children. Anticipating each other’s needs is a good start for better family life. There is no such thing as a perfect family, only families that are trying to love each other. We will inevitably hurt one another. We must be fast to forgive.
The primary objective is to serve. Jesus showed us by example. We must do the same for each other.