I woke up early this morning and was promptly greeted with a beaming smile and a huge hug from my 5 year old son, Ezra.
“Dad, can I take Cassie out with you this morning?” he chimed.
“Course you can!” I replied.
The weather was predictably murky and so we put on our waterproofs and wellies then headed out together into the wind and freezing rain with the dog.
“I love taking the dog for walks with you, dad!” chirped Ezra.
“I love it too Ez.” I replied. “It’s nice having a mate to walk the dog with on mornings like this.”
“Yeah, I’m your dog walking mate aren’t I dad?” exclaimed Ezra.
“You sure are!” I replied.
We continued on with our walk chatting and praying as we went.
“What are you having for breakfast, dad?” inquired Ezra.
“Weetabix fella.” I replied.
“Dad, I want Weetabix for breakfast too!” blurted Ezra.
“But you don’t like Weetabix Ez!” I replied.
“But I want the same breakfast as you!” enthused Ezra.
“OK then.” I replied.
When we got home we went upstairs to get ready for the day.
“Dad, can I use the same toothpaste as you today?” asked Ezra.
“It’s the blue one Ez, it’s quite strong.” I replied.
“I don’t mind, I want to use the same toothpaste as you.” insisted Ezra.
“Alright then fella.” I replied.
I put the blue toothpaste on both our toothbrushes and passed Ezra his. I then started brushing my teeth. As I looked down I noticed that Ezra’s gaze was fixed on me and he was copying my every move. When I scrubbed side-to-side, he scrubbed side-to-side. When I brushed up-and-down, he brushed up-and-down.
And that’s when it hit me – he’s mimicking my every move!
That’s what kids do.
And that’s terrifying!
I mean, it’s not only my taste in breakfast cereal and toothpaste that I’m passing on.
- It’s my words, my values, my passions and my priorities.
- It’s the way I relate to my wife, the way I talk about others, the way I use technology and the way I spend my time and my money.
- It’s the integrity of my faith, my attitude to church, my commitment to prayer, my devotion to Scripture, my appetite for mission and how I treat those who are different to me.
- It’s how I suffer, how I celebrate, how I sabbath and how I serve.
- It’s my whole, uncensored life that I’m putting on display to my kids.
Like I said – that’s terrifying.
But it’s also incredible!
In 1 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 1 Paul urged the Corinthian disciples:
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Paul was confident that as he followed Jesus he would be living a life that was worthy of imitation. Not because he was perfect, but because the One he followed was perfect. Not because of his faith alone, but because of who alone his faith was in. Ultimately Paul knew that it wasn’t him but his Jesus that the Corinthians needed to follow. But he got the privilege of putting Jesus on display to a watching world.
Like I said – that’s incredible!
So I guess the challenge for me is to live a life worthy of imitation. To faithfully follow Jesus, and by doing so to commend Him to my kids.
- To preach and to demonstrate the gospel.
- To be gracious, merciful, compassionate and encouraging.
- To speak the truth in love.
- To cherish their mother, honour the covenant of marriage and embrace family.
- To lead them in prayer, to guide them through Scripture, to include them in church, to involve them in mission, to walk by faith and not by sight.
- To set the bar for my daughters on how they should expect to be treated by men.
- To set the bar for my sons on what it means to be a man.
- To have fun, enjoy life and laugh as much as possible.
- To weep, mourn and grieve yet not as one without hope.
- And when I screw up – to model repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness.
Today, it was all about toothpaste and cereal. Tomorrow it might just be about truth and salvation.
Father, please grant my Your Holy Spirit to enable me to live a life that magnifies Your Son so that by my example the little flock I lead might look to You and live. Amen.