“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others it is the only means.”–Albert Einstein
In the “Back 9” of life I don’t think I have read a more true or accurate quote. All people walk and live with their “eyes open”. When people are awake and alert, their “eyes are open”. We need to take the time to understand and examine and reflect on the fact that what we see makes an impression, especially if we see it repeated over and over again.
While visiting my mother this past week, I was sitting and watching the news with her. Fox News is on at their house 24/7 so you are forced to watch a lot of news. I watched a special on the “violent video games” that were common games played by 7 young men who had all committed violent murders, some were mass murders, in the last few years. The expert psychologist was explaining in technical terms the power of what we see, how it floods our minds and influences our thinking to the point of action, even murder! It is an example of the “influence of what we see!”
I can now observe behavior, good and bad, in our adult children that they directly got from watching “yours truly”. They were influenced by what they saw me model repeatedly. When I see the “negative stuff,” it literally makes me sick and weighs extremely heavy on my heart. I have now realized it is up to me to change, go back to my adult children, either individually or collectively, in person or sometimes through email, or text and point it out. I then ask for forgiveness and invite them to look at their own lives and do the best I can to live a different example in front of them. When I see the positive in their lives, I am quick to “praise them” but leave out where I think they were influenced. After all, it is the negative that comes from me and I feel responsible for. The positive, I give God the glory.
What I have learned is that it is NEVER TOO LATE TO RE-TEACH AND RETRAIN. There is power in this realization. What I have discovered is that if you have young adult children, who have experienced life and are maturing, they are very open–especially when I make myself vulnerable and open to my mistakes (of poor influence) and genuinely ask for forgiveness–they are very willing to take a look. They give grace, forgiveness and, when asked, are gentle with me in what they see and say. My job is to change and allow God to give me opportunities to lead by the “new influence” of a better example.
Let me give you a few personal examples (these are triple boogies and out-of-bounds shots for sure):
A. My “potty mouth!” Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth………That it may benefit those that listen!” I didn’t grow up with a potty mouth. Even in my young adult life, when they were little, I didn’t have one. But in their teen years I developed one. Such a horrible example!!! I have changed and have gone through the steps that I listed above to re-teach and retrain.
B. Interrupting! I am the “title holder” for thinking about what I am going to say while someone is talking to the point of interrupting (rude), instead of listening. James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” I have been working on this a ton, having victory, but still working on it.
C. People Pleasing!!! This is the BIGGIE!!! I am a recovering people pleaser. I do like for people to be happy and pleased with me and “all my life” have wanted other people to approve and not be angry with me. It was to the point that I was not listening to God, but bouncing around like a “ping pong” ball in a steel room, avoiding people’s anger and disapproval of me. Just trying to make people happy, instead of doing the right thing. As a recovering “people pleaser” I have turned my total self away from “man’s opinion of me” and the only thing I care about is “LISTENING INTENTLY TO WHAT GOD SAYS AND HIS WORD”. Obeying even when it brings out anger in others! I have come to realize that if I am pleasing God, I am doing the right thing. I claim the verse in Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes his enemies to be at peace with him.”
Realizing that our “actions” communicate and influence more than anything we do is something I have learned with “first hand,” up-close experience. It takes intention on our part to “self-examine” and a “strong desire” to change. Real change is only possible with God. God can do miraculous things in our lives if we allow ourselves to be “soft clay” in HIS HANDS. I am now reaping the verse found in Job 2:25, “I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten….” I am learning it is NEVER TO LATE TO make a change and have “DO OVERS!” God is a God of second chances. I am living and encouraging you, the reader, to live 1 Peter 5:6, “HUMBLE yourselves, therefore under GOD’S MIGHTY HAND, that HE may lift you up in due time.”