“Mommy, how do you color so pretty?” Alyssa asked as we sat at the table. My pink crayon traced the inside perimeter of the flower. Her own coloring stopped as she observed the slow pace of my hand. Soon the shape filled in completely with broad strokes.
The last few times we had colored, I gently instructed her, “Alyssa, try your best to stay in the lines.” But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t put to paper what I instructed.
It was different this time, though. Instead of instructing her, I colored alongside her. Words weren’t necessary as she watched every stroke.
Soon I noticed her coming home with beautiful papers from Mother’s Day Out. Rarely did I find sloppy coloring; most of the shapes held neatly refined edges. Different segments of the images showed different colors, as great detail emerged.
This smallest lesson from coloring with my 5-year-old made me evaluate other areas of my life.
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me–everything you heard from me and saw me doing… (Philippians 4:9a NLT).
My tendency is to tell. “Color inside the lines.” “Consider the other person’s point of view.” “Get in the Word every day.” “Make time for friendships.”
But most of us aren’t auditory learners. Just like Alyssa didn’t understand how to color inside the lines until she saw me doing it, many people don’t understand the how behind our commands or expectations.
Not until Alyssa saw my picture did she see what a difference coloring inside the lines actually made in the finished product.
If I want my children to make time for God as adults, they must see me making time for Him now.
If I want my children to learn self-control, they must see me exercising it myself.
If I want my daughter to respect her husband someday, she has to see me respecting Matt.
If I want to help women make time for friendships, they need to see me making time for them.
And it’s not just the example itself – “walking the talk” – it’s “showing the how.” Many times we know what we need to be doing; we simply lack the how.
May we heed Paul’s example – and Jesus’ for that matter – and not only teach by word but also do in deed.
Because when those coming after us learn how to color their world by watching us, we will behold the most beautiful of pictures the lives produce.
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