Author Catherine Alder said, “If you can't be a good example than you'll have to be a horrible warning.”
Years ago, a neighbor boy, who was a few years older than my kids, was into drugs. Despite repeated attempts from his family to intervene, he ended up overdosing and did irreparable damage to his brain. He never completely recovered and cannot fully care for himself. His life is a horrible warning.
When he was still lucid, if you had asked him what kind of example he was setting, he would have truthfully admitted it wasn't a good one. But what about us?
What example are we setting? It may not be what you think.
A friend was getting her hair done. As she and the stylist chatted, the topic of church came up. My friend asked, "What church do you attend?"
The young lady told her. It happened to be the same church my friend attended. The stylist ended her response with two extra words. "...sort of."
My friend dug deeper. "What do you mean you sort of go there?"
"Well, my parents go there. They do the whole church thing. My dad's an elder. But then when they're at home with their friends I hear how they really are.Swearing, drinking, talking about inappropriate stuff."
Her parents kept encouraging her to go to church, that she needed God. The young woman wondered what the point would be? Her parents were saying the right things about church, but they didn't example any good result.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say."
Our biggest witness to who Jesus is and why we need him is not in our words but in our actions. How do your actions bear witness?
Probably the bigger question is, "How do I need to change in order to show Jesus to others?
A list of things may have started ticking off in your head. Write them down. Beyond some obvious things, look at all your activities with a critical eye.
For example, if you have been bailing on Sunday church so your kids can be in some sport think about what message that sends them - God is not as important as soccer.
Setting a good example may be a big transition. Most worthwhile things are. Better that than your life ends up as a horrible warning. One that you weren't even aware of.