A few months ago I was working at my computer with my little granddaughter Eliana sitting on my lap. She began digging in my shirt pocket as I continued to work. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she extracted stuff out of my pocket, piece by piece. She examined each item meticulously, my glasses, my pens and my pieces of paper. I didn’t pay much attention because I thought she had pretty well cleaned me out. After a few minutes I noticed she was rather quiet and wasn’t fidgeting. I looked down at her, and she had found a tooth pick and had placed it in the corner of her mouth, exactly the way I do.
I could share a dozen examples of how my kids and grandkids have imitated me in some form or fashion. That’s what kids do. One of the primary ways we learn is by observing behavior and then implementing it. This may very well be the most powerful learning method our children will use. I have a question for myself and that is: How much of my words and behavior do I want them to imitate? I must admit not everything, but I hope most of what they see is worth imitating. Paul wrote to the Philippians admonishing them to pursue noble things in life, and then he followed it up by saying, “Imitate me!”
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. 9 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.”
My father just turned 89 a few days ago. He has lived an exemplary life before me. He taught me so much about life, and, best of all, he continues to live out his faith and principles. I, in turn, have followed in his steps and modeled my faith for my children and grandchildren. I don’t think there is anything more difficult and yet more rewarding than knowing you have special people following in your steps.
The best things in life are acquired through great effort. I would put marriage and the family in that category. One of the reasons there is so much divorce is that marriage is hard work and raising a family takes total commitment. I consider myself very blessed to have been married to the same woman for 40 years and to have raised my sons and daughter. Now, Marilyn and I are watching our children raise their little families. I still do everything I can to inspire them toward the noble things in life. I believe I am right when I say that the best thing I have ever done or will ever do is to live a life worth imitating.