Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

A little over 20 years ago, Charles Barkley famously said in a Nike ad, “I am not a role model.” It was a naïve statement.  The truth is that we are all role models. Each of us is setting an example for someone, every minute of every day.  You can’t walk away from that reality.  The people you interact with are watching what you do.  And by your words and actions, you are influencing others, whether you like it or not.

We tend to think that it is only adults who influence children. However, as an adult, you influence other adults.  Think about your peers.  They are influencing you.  I have a friend who only will do something if she can do it well.  Otherwise, she doesn’t do it at all.  She sets very high standards for herself.  She influences me.  Because of her, I am more comfortable saying “no” to doing things, if I can’t do them well.

Significantly, we can be influenced in the right or the wrong direction. If you have a friend who only does the bare minimum in all things, that person’s low standard is influencing how you approach your own life.  You see the power of influence in neighborhoods.  If one person stops taking care of their yard and home, pretty soon everyone else does too.  And then what could have been a beautiful place to live turns into something very unattractive.

Setting an example is especially important in our homes. How many marriages fail because the couple’s parents failed to set a good example?  When fathers treat their wives with disrespect, their sons are watching.  When mothers complain about their husbands instead of praising them, their daughters are watching.  And more likely than not, those kids someday will mimic both the good and bad behaviors of their parents when they get married.  Parents are role models.

Similarly, friends influence each other’s marriages. Good husbands set an example for their friends as to how men should treat their wives.  And since men are competitive, they will compete to be the best husband just as quickly as they will compete to be the most selfish husband.  Good wives likewise set an example for their friends.  Women who praise (not brag about) their husbands publically set an example of how wives should talk about their husbands.

Setting an example is especially important in the work place. Most people spend more waking hours at work than they do at home.  So the workplace should be fun and enjoyable.  But that requires employees who set an example by having positive attitudes and a strong work ethic.  Even one lazy person with a negative attitude can poison the entire office environment.

We don’t like to think about how our words and actions can impact those we encounter. We want to do whatever we feel like doing without consequence.  But the people you interact with each day aren’t walls.  What you say and do, doesn’t just bounce off them.  What you do impacts other people.  It is your choice as to whether to influence others in a positive or negative manner.

We each have an obligation to consider how we are affecting those around us. I encourage you this week to think about how your words and actions are influencing others.  What would your family members, colleagues and friends say about you?   Would they say that you are setting a good example?  Would they say that you inspire them to be a better people?  Be sure that in all that you say and do, you try to influence others to be their very best.

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