I’ve always been an observer of people. I am not sure if I could say that I am a “keen” observer of others, but I definitely am the type of individual who has learned a lot by watching the way people do things. I can especially remember as a kid in school watching my teachers with deep interest in the way they taught, the mannerisms they used, the way they spoke and whether they successfully captured the imagination of the class or left them doodling at their desks uninspired by what was being presented.
Since I attended parochial school during my elementary years, I was very in tune to the way in which the nuns prayed, the way they shared their lives and their reverent attitude toward the church and the Word of God. One of my favorite teachers over the years was a math instructor I had in public junior high. Since math was not one of my stronger classes at that time, I was a little wary of him on the first day of class when he calmly but strictly told us of his rigid expectations that he would demand of us throughout the year. Then with that established he smiled and joked the next day and from then on took a very personal interest in each of us students.
Another favorite instructor was a teacher that I had for a variety of classes throughout high school including a business class in my senior year. I recall that he would keep us on the edge of our seats as he regaled us with some of his adventures working uncover for the Italian underground resistance forces during WWII. He drove to school in a vintage Italian sports car which obviously caught my attention, and was a semi-professional wedding photography on the side. He was a great inspiration and mentor to me during my formative years as a budding photographer.
He was always very patient and encouraging as I would bring him all my initial attempts of projects from my photography class that I was learning to develop in the school dark room and later on in my backyard shed that I turned into a darkroom at my parent’s home. The vast majority of the pictures I brought to him for his evaluation and mentoring were of my hot young girlfriend… (many blurred and over or under exposed), so he also got to know my future bride as well! In fact, he shot the photos at our wedding a few years later!
In my years in the ministry I’ve also been a close observant of other ministers when they preach, minister to people in need, and how they carry themselves outside of the walls of the church. I have been blessed to be associated with and work under some excellent men and women of God who walk in integrity and with whom I hold in high esteem.
Most of these individuals in ministry that I have sought to learn from just seem to always say and do the appropriate thing in almost every situation! Many times I will look back at their responses to life and think, “How did they know to do that… wish that I could react that way without having to stop and think about the situation!” Lately I’ve come to learn that their quick and positive responses are just who they are. It comes from years of learning and countless hours before the throne of God through prayer and study of the Word of God.
In writing to Christians the Apostle Paul instructed them (and us today as well) saying: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Ephesians 4:17-18 KJV) Thayer’s Greek Definitions defines the word “vanity” as: “what is devoid of truth and appropriateness.”
That definition clearly explains the reasoning behind many of the unreal and insensitive things that were said and done (or not done) toward us over these last few years by folks who were simply being led in their response to the sickness attacking my wife strictly by their five senses and not the truth of God’s Word. In my strain and pain of the harsh realities in dealing with the events at hand, I did not feel that their actions were very appropriate.
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges directly relates the phrase “the life of God” to the Word of God. So once again, I see where the various writers of the New Testament, under the inspiration and anointing of the Holy Spirit, continue to point us to the Word of God as the truth from which we should guide the words and actions of our lives… regardless of how strongly our senses may try to convince us otherwise.
Those teachers back in school as well as the men and women of God in my adult life that ministered to me the most were (and are) the ones who exhibited patience, love and caring toward me as they nurtured me through my mistakes, ignorance and clumsy learning attempts throughout my life. They did (and do) the appropriate thing and it literally helped to positively form many of the parts of who I am today.
As I learn, lean on and follow the truth of God’s Word as my pattern in life, I notice that I also tend to do the appropriate thing with those I come in contact with through each day of my life. Do you find that to be true for you as well? Who are those in your life that you look to as appropriate examples and mentors for you? Do they do the things that are filled with truth and excel in doing the appropriate thing for and with those they interact with? Do others say and think that about you?
Have a great week. Stay in tune to the truth of God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to follow as my example of doing the appropriate things in life?”