There was a young boy who was raised “in the church” but as he got older, became independent, he left the faith instilled in him by his parents. He noticed that without his childhood faith he was doing just fine in life. Great in fact!
He had soared through college, landed a great career, married, two kids, house and the perfect well-behaved dog. “See, who needs God?”
Then he lost his job, he lost his house, he lost his marriage and his kids, and then the dog died. He went back to the church and spoke with the preacher he’d known since childhood.
The desperate and distraught man questioned how everything had been so right and then it all fell apart. The preacher said, “One of your mistakes was that you thought you had built this hedge of perfection about you which could not be touched because of your own greatness.
The reality is, one time your dear sweet faithful mother confessed to me that she would pray for you every single day. Pray for your prosperity. Pray for your protection. Pray for your soul. You see son, you never built anything. Your mother built that hedge for you through her faithful service to the Lord and through her prayers for you day and night.
Did you notice that when things began to fall apart in life, is when you lost that faithful prayer warrior that was fighting for you every day of her life?” The man, breaking down into tears, realizing his selfishness, arrogance, and folly said, “What do I do?”
The preacher said, “You’ve come here upset and heartbroken over all that you have lost. If you want any of it back then you need to start with the first thing you lost.” “My mother?”, the boy replied confused. “Close”, the preacher said, “Your faith…”
“Find your faith, and you will find your mother, and her legacy of prayer and trust in the Lord, and her greatest prayer would finally find fruition… in your soul turning back to the Lord.”
O’Conner Road church of Christ
“He that gives good advice builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example builds with one hand and pulls down with the other” (Francis Bacon).
EXEMPLARINESS MEANS SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR OTHERS. It doesn’t mean setting ourselves up as authorities or demanding that others pay attention to us; it simply means living in such a way that others would be helped, rather than hurt, if they did things the way we do them. Exemplary conduct comes from asking and honestly answering the question, “What kind of world would it be if everybody conducted their affairs just as I conduct mine?”
When we are trying to have an influence on someone else, it is tempting to rely solely on words. Obviously, advice is an easier thing to give than a good example, and that’s why most of us end up saying so often to our friends and family, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
But if exemplariness is difficult and costly, there can be no doubt that it’s worth the cost. As Aristotle observed long ago, ethos (our manner of living) is a more powerful persuader than logos (our words) alone. Influence almost always requires the use of words, but it can rarely be limited to words. Real impact requires more — it comes from modeling the principles and practices that we wish others to adopt.
So all things considered, the most “powerful” and “influential” people in the world aren’t the eloquent orators or the motivational masterminds, nor are they the celebrities or the front-page newsmakers. More often than not, they’re just the ordinary, everyday folks who quietly go about the business of living high-quality lives each day.
We have it within our power to give many gifts to those around us, but no gift is more valuable than the living of an exemplary life. In fact, nothing else will mean much if our manner of life is not what it ought to be. If our lives are out of sync with the principles of goodness, no other gifts (least of all those bought with money) can make up for the damage that we do. So why not improve our exemplariness? Why not give our fellow human beings the benefit of an example that can be honorably followed? Whether they ever say so or not, others will appreciate it. Maybe not now, but eventually they’ll appreciate it. “The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example” (Benjamin Morell).
Gary Henry – WordPoints.com