Romans 15:5-6 (NIV)It’s kind of convicting to think about how often I ask for endurance and encouragement, but do so in order to carry out what I’ve made my own priorities. So much of my energy is focused on being a good dad and husband. Worthy pursuits, but certainly there’s more to being a good follower of Jesus than just taking care of my family. After all, if I’m a saint to my kids yet unable to have a Christ-like attitude in my dealings with other folks, I shouldn’t expect the boys to be any better as adults.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It can be very difficult to keep this exhortation front and center mentally. Today we took the family to the local amusement park, which was crawling with thousands of people we’ll likely never see again. It can be so easy to view those other folks as simply part of the scenery — unlike, say, a family I might sit by on an airplane — and to therefore be in no way concerned with how they might perceive me or what effect my actions might have on them. Or to simply sit in silent judgment (the polite term is “people watching”) and think about how much nicer my family happens to be.
We did try to teach the kids, the middle one especially, about how to act in such a large crowd and open area. Most of the instruction was safety based, but some of it was comportment. He’s never been in such a setting — it doesn’t hold a candle to the zoo in terms of the scale, noise level and sea of unpredictable humanity — but the initial response was to treat it as just another stomping grounds, a place where running free was tolerated and nothing was off limits.
Fortunately, not only was Kristie quick to lay down the law, but the kids fell mostly in line. But again, the primary concern was safety. On future visits perhaps we can work harder on line etiquette, being polite to those around us and gracious to employees. Not that the boys were in any way rude or seriously disruptive, but these park trips are prime opportunities to be not just good but intentionally exemplary. I don’t expect them to set the standard, but I certainly can consider ways I might model for them conduct that goes above and beyond just blending in with all the rest of the “scenery.”
Look, I don’t know how exactly one glorifies God while riding a roller coaster or waiting in line for the teacups. I’m not a Biblical scholar, but I don’t think those tips are buried somewhere in Malachi or Philemon. Still, I’m called to treat everyone else the way Jesus would, and I know for a fact I don’t have a great track record. So I try to figure out my failings, address them and do better next time. And, when appropriate, I make my kids part of the process. I know of no other way to teach than to learn first. And if God opens my eyes, perhaps I can be used to help to the same for my wonderful offspring.
A prayer for May 4:
Lord, thank you for a wonderful day with my family. After yet another busy week, it was great to spend so much time together, just the five of us, and to see so much joy on the kids’ faces. As I prepare for another week, help me to see opportunities to do more than just go through the motions. Show me where I can be of most use, living not just for myself and my family but for your honor and glory. Give me a mind to treat others as you would have them be treated. Let me be something special in your name. Amen.