I chuckle when looking at the photo here. This little guy following me around is now a bit taller than I am. This pic was taken about 4-5 years ago and much has changed in that time. We no longer live in York county. I am serving another parish. We are proud grandparents. And, I am shorter than our youngest son. It is pretty heady stuff to consider our children follow in our footsteps. Physically speaking, I the father, have been surpassed by the son. Mentally and spiritually, I am still growing and still on the clock to pour into this little fellow all that God has given to me. It is important work.
The picture here shows us walking around a manmade lake that had been drained a bit for spillway repairs. We spent an inordinate amount of time looking for treasures on the exposed lake floor. We also skipped a million and a half stones across the water (Slight exaggeration). There is something addictive about skipping stones. After getting a stone to skip 8-10 times, one cannot simply stop there. You have to keep going to see if you can beat 8-10 skips. (once had one go over 20 skips, but have no recorded evidence to show you)
What is even more fun is teaching a son or daughter how to find good stones and then how to skip them. The search for the perfect stone is primary. I watched as this little guy chose stones which
weren't quite what we were looking for (Round or gawky looking stones don't skip, they flop and sink). I would then instruct and model the search technique. Those young little eyes watched closely. The perfect stone should be about 2.5 or 3 inches across. They need to be about 3/8 of an inch think. One must be able to wrap the thumb and index finger around said stone and snap the wrist on the throw. It is akin to rocket science. (Oh, and lower to the surface of the water is better.)
All this to say, the little boy in the picture can now find the perfect skipping stone and has surpassed dad's prowess in this addictive sport. I'm thinking it should become an Olympic sport but unsure how to petition the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Clearly, our children will learn many things from our habits and words. We try to get it right and often teach our kids good things and usually by design (sometimes by mistake). It is imperative that all we model in the presence of our kids and grandkids leads them to become solid citizens and disciples of Jesus. Modeling is so important.
"A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life. In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them. Train a child in the way he (she) should go, and when he (she) is old he (she) will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:3-6, NIV) [emphasis added]
Conversely, we can teach our children all the wrong things (sometimes by mistake). Words burst from our mouths or unbridled actions demonstrate to our kids all the wrong ways to grow into strong citizens and followers of Jesus. Modeling is so important. It would not be a stretch to say parenting skills have fallen on hard times. Children are not seeing strong models of citizenry or faithful followers of Jesus.
We have the opportunity to train young children so we don't have to try to mend adults later. Are you game? I am and invite you to join me as we bless the next generation by teaching young ones to follow in our footsteps even as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.