Thursday, January 24, 2008

Foxes and Wolves

“Foxes and wolves are not nature’s instrument to generate sheep.” John Shaw

I recently read this quote in Christ Centered Preaching, by Bryan Chapell. Mr. Chapell was using the quote to illustrate one of three necessary elements of a persuasive message: the ethos, or how the listener perceives the character of the speaker. Aristotle actually believed that the ethos was “the most powerful component of persuasion.” In other words, who you are will always have a greater impact than what you say, no matter how eloquent.

I have always known this intuitively. This knowledge came from years of being a teacher. Kids can smell a phony a mile away. As I endeavored to instruct my students in character and integrity, I was always acutely aware of my own sinfulness. Holding the kids accountable was always a little tricky, knowing my own faults were played out in front of the class regularly. My fear, of course, was that the kids would hear me say one thing yet observe me do another.

Long after they had left my classroom, I knew that they would remember very little of what I taught them. But they would remember who I was.

Paul exhorted the church at Corinth: “Be imitators of me.” That is one brave statement. Could you say that to your children? I’m pretty sure I could not. Yet as parents, the most effective way we teach is by example. Do you remember this poem? It has been around since 1959. But its point is well taken.


Children Learn What They Live
If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn . . .

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight . . .

If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive . . .

If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself . . .

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy . . .

If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilt . . .
BUT
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient . . .

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident . . .

If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative . . .

If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love . . .

If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is . . .

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice . . .

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him . . .

If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live . . .

WITH WHAT IS YOUR CHILD LIVING?


Dorothy L. Law


This principle, of course, can be applied to spiritual leaders as well. If we want to raise up sheep, we can’t go around acting like foxes and wolves.


Christ was was no stranger to this idea. He urged humility, self-sacrifice, and obedience to God on those who chose to follow Him. And He led by example.

3 comments:

Dave said...

My second grade teacher was Mrs. Winkler. I remember her teaching us how to write cursive, and I remember that when it was our birthday, she had this special "ritual" to celebrate. Other than that, all I remember about Mrs. Winker is Mrs. Winkler: her patience, her character, her love, everything. She ended up having all three of my siblings, and became a good family friend in the process. She's been at all three of our graduation parties (and will come to Brad's in June). When I was inducted into NHS, our school let us pick one teacher who had the biggest impact on our lives. I chose Mrs. Winkler.

Bethany Blanchard Coleman said...

I like getting the inside scoop on what your children--who've seen far more of you over the years than even your students--have to say about your generosity, your trustworthiness, your faithfulness, your wisdom and your love. :) "Her children will rise up and call her blessed."

Julie Coleman said...

And now you can see why I love my daughter in law (you too, Ruth!)