With three young boys in my home there’s always some competition when it comes to almost everything. If I do one favor for one the others are quick to request a compensating favor. If I read to one, I must read to all. And when it comes to sports or games, typically the fight is to see who comes out “on top”. I recall playing “king of the mountain” as a child, and that’s the best way I can describe how these boys interact with each other. ONE is always trying to exceed the others.
In their young minds, the short-term goal is have more toys than anyone else in the house—-and then hoard those gifts. We have footlockers full of toys they never play with and yet they are determined to have more and more. Sadly, they’re living lives that are really quite common and natural—-at least “natural” in terms of normal, human behavior.
But as I scold them for being selfish or for bragging or hoarding, I know what I am “swimming upstream” when you take into consideration all that they see in magazines, television, advertisements and movies. We really don’t know what to do with folks that act contrary to “normal” human interacting, so we ignore them, ostracize them, crucify them, etc.
The joy I am attempting to impress upon my sons is the joy that comes from giving, from letting others get to the top ahead of you and from denying your own rights and defending the rights of others. But when I say these things they look at me as if I had two heads. It’s as if they are muttering to themselves, “Are you crazy?” So who do I point to as examples of living a selfless life? Who can direct them to that would instill within them the hidden but incredible satisfaction and union with God that comes when we truly live a life like Jesus? Can you think of a national leader, national athlete or even a clergyman that could be pointed to???
Obviously Jesus is the hero to look at, but He is not still walking the earth—-only His disciples are, people like you and me. We are here to mirror the kind of life a young person should live. And this is why I am somewhat critical of folks, like me, who minister in the “name” of Jesus but forget that little eyes are ever upon us. Are we exhibiting, daily, the humility, selflessness, love and devotion to God that we should be showing? Are we industrious, hard-working, honest, trustworthy… and do we love as He loved? As I take time to examine my own life and bear in mind that for the time being I the closest example of Jesus these boys have, I should shudder a bit. “Woe to him who causes one of these little ones to stumble….”