As a mom, no matter what I’m saying or doing, I’m leading by example. When I stay calm in the midst of confusion, I’m leading by example. When I constantly correct and forget to encourage, I’m leading by example. When I pray for those who hurt me, I’m leading by example. As a parent, I’m always leading by example — good or bad.
Like everyone else, I’m far from perfect. So how do I handle always being watched, always teaching by my actions or lack thereof? Well, I try to be careful of the examples that are influencing me. It’s important to be intentional about with whom we spend our time and clear about what attributes we will follow.
It’s good to surround ourselves with friends who have the character traits or qualities we desire or who are striving toward them as we are. I have friends who influence me in my marriage simply by putting their marriages first. Other friends help me remember to make time for fun with my kids by spending time having fun with theirs.
It’s kind of a domino effect. If I hang around respectful people, I’ll be influenced to respect… and will in turn influence my children to be respectful. If I hang around people always putting their husbands down, I’ll be influenced to do the same. If I’m around someone who is always criticizing, I may start to have more of a critical eye.
That’s not to say that I avoid people who are facing challenging times. We all are discouraged and feel negative at times. We need to offer grace and be there for each other. But if someone is constantly yelling at their children or complaining about their husbands and they don’t seem to want to improve their behavior, we may need to limit our time spent with them when we’re able.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I try to spend time with him through prayer and follow his example. During his time on earth, Jesus modeled love, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness, goodness and peace. He had grace, integrity, compassion and a servant attitude. He didn’t give in to temptation and was concerned about others. He was all the things I’m striving to be. The things I want to model for my children.
Jesus was the perfect example. Easter reminds me, though, that I’m not expected to be perfect. God accepts me just as I am.