The power of a role model, good or bad.

Recently, my fiancé, Ethan, oldest of all his siblings (almost a dozen), has been feeling discouraged.  He’s been feeling like all of the hard decisions and life changes he has made in order to be a better role model for his siblings have been for nothing.  This is because the siblings that are older (high school and above) have started down the path Ethan corrected himself away from in order to be a good role model for them – away from drinking, smoking, swearing, ect.

Ethan knows that they have to learn some lessons their own way and figure out who they are through some trial and error, so he is trying not to get too hung up on that.  The part that upset him the most is the fact that they started doing these things in front of the younger siblings (middle school and below) and that a friend of his has been a role model to this path.

I’ve been reading 2 Kings for a while and it talks about the deeds of all of these kings of Israel’s past.  Most of them are bad role models.  Every time Israel has a bad king, the Bible says something along these lines:

“He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. “ (2 Kings 13:2)

Let’s break this down.

“He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat…”

Meaning he did not break away from the sins displeasing to God, though he has seen the wake of their destruction in the past.  An example of this would be the increased likelihood of a child adopting an unhealthy habit as an adult if they grow up around that unhealthy habit (for example: drinking, smoking, abusive relationships, etc.).  If it is customary, if you are used to it, if it is a normal thing in your life, then it is familiar, and often becomes a habit that is hard not to fall prey to, though the choice is there.

“… which he had caused Israel to commit…”

This implies that the role model is responsible for the wrong doings of those that look up to him since he lead them down the path to destruction.  This puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the role model.  You do good, good will be done.  You do bad, more bad will follow.

“… and he did not turn away from them.”

Even though a bad role model may see the damage he is doing and may do in the future, he chooses not to change.  Not changing is the easier option.  Living for yourself, doing what you want, swearing when you feel like it, smoking when you want a cigarette, drinking when you want a buzz, ignoring morals, ignoring the image you portray to those that look up to you, ignoring the facts… it’s just easier.  Though they may see the potential consequences of their actions, they don’t believe they outweigh the immediate gratification/satisfaction of what they want to do. 

So back to the story.

Ethan tried to talk to the older ones about watching what they say and what they do around the little ones several times, but it didn’t stick.  He got more upset and more frustrated.

Then I talked to Ethan about this Bible quote.  I told him that I believe even though some of the siblings were choosing the easier path, they will find that it is unfulfilling, at which time they will turn back to his example.  I also told him that just because some were falling in line with his friend and the ways of the world, does not mean that all of them would.

Then, sure enough, when we were all hanging out one night, one of the older ones (college age) got a talking to from two of his middle-school-aged brothers.  They both told him he swears too much, he shouldn’t be smoking, and he isn’t even the legal age to drink yet, so that shouldn’t be happening either.  He was offended and tried to tell them off, but I told them they are awesome, and I could not wait to tell this to Ethan: his example did stick!!  It was by hearing Ethan stand up for what is right, that the younger ones learned that the type of behavior displayed by the older ones was not right, was not cool, and was not responsible.

This Bible quote and this situation with Ethan’s family really solidified the importance of being a good role model, especially when surrounded by bad ones.

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