Who do you take after?

Are you more like your mum or your dad? As you get older, whose example are you following? Whose advice do you heed?

We may well admit that we don’t know everything and we may well decide that we want to be shaped by God’s view of the world. But where do we go for help? Who can we trust? Where do we start?

Proverbs 1 v 8–9

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
 and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
 and a chain to adorn your neck.

Solomon’s answer is that we should look first to those that God gave us as our first teachers — our parents. The nuclear family is not an accident, but a valuable school of learning as we grow up and we don’t outgrow what we learn there.

For some, this begs the question — what about my parents? They’re not wonderful model human beings! Your parents may have hurt you or failed you in a big way; they may never have been on the scene. There have hopefully been others who have guided and advised along the way. And even for those with good parents, we’re probably painfully aware of their flaws and shortcomings.

But don’t despise their wisdom and guidance — imperfect as they may be. They may surprise you.

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Although this famous witticism was never actually said by Mark Twain, it sounds like it could have been and certainly has the ring of truth. A recent poll asked five thousand 20-somethings about their parents and 70 percent admitted they’d thought they “knew it all” in their teens and somewhere around 22 they’d realised that their parents might have known something after all.

I don’t know why it happens, it may be when you start out on your own and have to make all those decisions about finances, food, relationships and the future or it may be when you have children of your own, but at some point you realise that you may have underestimated mum and dad.

Praise God for those who have been instrumental in your growth as a person, and especially those who have taught you, by words and deeds, how to follow Jesus.

Putting it into Practice

  1. Why not call your biological or spiritual parents today and thank them for their advice and example? Share with them the way in which their teaching has helped to shape you.
  2. Take time to think of someone that you look up to, someone who, however old you are, you’d like to be more like when you grow up. Arrange to go and spend time with them and consult them about the next stage of your life.