More is Caught than Taught

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I was driving down Railroad Street in Hayward, WI the other day and a truck with a camper trailer pulled out in front of me between Marketplace Foods and McDonalds and made me stop short.

Now obviously according to the generally accepted etiquette of civilized driving, one does not make another vehicle wait or stop short when pulling an extra large camper trailer. This over-size towing package should wait patiently until the road and other vehicles are clear before embarking on its destination.

Well this obstruction did not wait and it affected my driving attitude for a brief second. I had my two girls in the car when this happened (and, to be honest, wasn’t as dramatic as I’m making it out to be). Due to Hayward being a tourist/vacation destination for many people, us locals get used to city drivers and vacationers on our roads and we usually have to tolerate their erratic driving during the summer months.

Here’s what I thought: “This guy (or lady) just cut me off! How dare they?!” Then I paused, realized it was a non-local, and proceeded to wait patiently and choose to be cordial rather than annoyed (any average driver knows this is difficult, right?).

My next  was this: “If I were to scream and yell or mutter under my breath about what I feel about what this person just did, my girls will hear this and they will learn something. They will learn that when you are cut off by another vehicle in the car it is okay to call the other driver an ‘idiot’ or ‘stupid’ or ‘crazy’ or ‘inconsiderate’ (of course, which all might be true!). But is this what I want to teach my kids about how to be like Jesus in our world? No.”

Often what our kids learn from us is our responses to things that happen in our lives. The difficult part to play as a parent is being aware (all the time) of our responses–holy or unholy. Of course, my wife Amanda and I try to verbally teach our kids good, holy responses, but those lessons pale in comparison to the things they learn when we are not “consciously” teaching… like when we are driving down Railroad Street and other cars pull out in front of us. The old adage is true: “more is caught than taught.”

What are your kids “catching” from you? Have you ever thought about that? What do other people “catch” from how you live your life as a person who follows Jesus?