Who, would you say, has set a positive example for your life? Who has set a negative example?
Personally, I can think of many positive role models. There was a single missionary gal who was my camp counselor for a week ‘way back when I was in sixth grade. She inspired me to memorize Scripture and planted the seed of foreign missions in my heart. Then there was Granny Maude – the little ol’ lady who weeded the flower beds alongside our church when we lived in Washington state. And Sally, a pastor’s wife and good friend who encouraged me to develop and use my musical abilities.
I can also recall negative role models. Take the woman with whom I traveled for business several times, for example. Her lips lied and complained to hotel clerks and waitresses. And how about the worship leader who left his wife to marry someone else? And the lady who used gossip to split a church?
So long as we’re warm and breathing, we carry the potential to set either a positive or a negative example for those within our sphere of influence. Woe to us if our balance falls on the negative side of the teeter-totter.
The book of 1 Kings tells of rulers with a reputation for evil influence. Jeroboam, for instance, led Israel to commit sins. King Baasha did the same. His son Elah followed suite (1 Kings 15:34, 16:2,13,19). Rather than serving God, these men worshiped idols, and their example encouraged others to do the same. God was not pleased. “You have provoked my anger by causing my people Israel to sin,” He said (16:2).
God’s attitude towards those who negatively influence others causes me to seriously consider my ways. Do my words plant seeds of discontent, criticism or judgment in the minds of others? Does my behavior lead anyone to do anything inappropriate? Bottom line – does my example draw people closer to Jesus or cause them to turn away from Him? If my attitudes and actions cause anyone to sin, then God will hold me accountable.
Take a few moments to ponder God’s words to King Baasha in 1 Kings 16:2 – “You have provoked my anger by causing my people Israel to sin.” Ask Him to show you if there’s any way you’ve caused someone to sin. If He brings something to mind, then confess that to Him. Next, go to the person. Ask his forgiveness for leading him astray and encourage him to follow God wholeheartedly.
However wide our sphere of influence, let’s do our best to make it positive. Through our attitudes and actions, let’s strive to point others to Jesus rather than away from Him.
Any thoughts? What positive role model do you recall?