On September 4, 2007 my father gave me a little poem that was framed and had been in his bathroom for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if I had ever read the poem until the day he decided to give it to me with the note on the back saying “Passing the torch!” There is no title or author, but reads as follows.
Walk a little plainer; dad,
said a little boy so frail.
I’m following in your footsteps
and I don’t want to fail.
Sometimes your steps are very plain.
Sometimes they are hard to see.
So walk a little plainer, dad,
for you are leading me.
I know that once you walked
this way, many years ago
and what you did along the way,
I’d really like to know.
For sometimes when I am tempted
I don’t know what to do.
So walk a little plainer, dad,
for I must follow you
Someday when I’m grown up
you are like I want to be.
Then I will have a little boy
who will want to follow me
and I would want to lead him right,
and help him to be true
so walk a little plainer, dad,
for we must follow you.
How many know of parents that live to a different standard than they expect their kids to live to and wonder why they turned out just like them? We all know parents that use foul language and is no surprise to hear “little Johnny” repeat the same. How can we live to one standard and expect our kids to live to a different standard? How can we expect our kids to make good choices in the foods they eat, the movies they watch, the internet sites they visit, the language they use if they see us, their parents, making choices that are not consistent with how we are instructing them? Follow the leader is an elementary game for kids and following the lead of mom and dad is exactly what our children will do. Fortunately, my father lived and modeled a life that I would hope to follow. I recognize many of his strengths that come so natural to him and strive to realize those in my own life. The characteristics that are modeled by parents are naturally picked up by the children. The saying “the apple does not fall far from the tree” certainly testifies to this truth. This is also the same for leaders of corporations and organizations. As researched and presented by Jim Collin’s team at Stanford, the lasting great businesses adapt, evolve and thrive with changing technologies and markets. The products and services may change, but the core values that represent the character of the organization remain the same. 3M may have started as a mining company, but was really founded on a core ideology and culture of innovation. The products, services, markets and directions changed over time, but what made 3M consistently outperform the market is a clear understanding and commitment to pursue their core ideology and passion for innovation. In our family we have established Core Values that provide direction and guidelines that direct the way we seek to relate to the many relationships in life. My wife and I, as leaders of our family, seek to model these values in our personal decisions and daily actions. Our kids are sponges watching our every move. And yes we make mistakes and fail more often in front of those we are most responsible to, but failure when recognized and properly corrected demonstrates Gods grace for us and the reality of the struggle we all have with sin and living a life that seeks to model Christ’s example. Jesus gave us the perfect model. We will not be perfect, but taking the time to write down your core values, applying them to your daily decisions, and daily modeling these to your children in your own life will yield great dividends as our little ones follow our lead. For those of you who do lead their families and find your children are not following in your example I encourage you that “What you get is who you are” is true most of the time, but not absolute. Stay the course, pray for your kids, and give them time for the Holy Spirit work in their lives and draw them back to the truth. So, walk a little plainer, dad, for we must follow you.
I Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ