We need to have goals and dreams, for ourselves, family and friends; it is a vital part of being human that God placed in each of us. We need jobs, homes, vacations, food, transportation, clothing, value, friendship: all off these things are also a part of life. First though, before all else – we need God. He needs us, too.
Most of us try to be first; first in that “over 40 year old 5K race,” first to get the promotion, first in line at the theater, first on line to buy concert tickets, first to get the view of the morning sunrise, first in your college graduating class, or first to get control of the TV remote. Being first has been a preoccupation with humankind, from the beginning of the Olympic games where we proved who was best at some sport, to the first to file a patent so we can lay claim to ownership of a design or idea. It is a natural human condition to want to be first, with a few notable exceptions: the first to die, the first to pay taxes, the first to sin. The reasoning behind not wanting to die first is obvious, and no one enjoys paying taxes so why do it first? To sin is to willingly separate from God, so why be first at something so bad? The initial sin is almost expected, because we all fall short of perfection, but the second sin is by choice – after observing or doing it once, we with full knowledge do it again. So maybe, it is better to be the first sinner, rather than the second. Perhaps the first sin is not the worst, but it is the second sin that we all must avoid.
Have you ever wondered what it might feel like to be a mosquito? Probably not, and if you have perhaps you should seek immediate psychiatric help. For the moment though, we’ll pretend its okay to consider becoming a small, annoying pest. The good news about a mosquito is that they belong to a very large family. Cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters are in abundance, although they come and go rather quickly. Your family name is Culcidae, and there are 3,500 different species in your family. We all know people who can’t go anywhere without meeting a friend (and it’s annoying); mosquitoes are like that.
There is a thin line, (sometimes it’s a fishing line so it appears invisible), which separates preaching from teaching; especially if the topic is your children’s behavior, or religion. Discussions about God and spirituality may start with the noble intention to teach, but through various hairpin curves and hidden trap doors, evolve mysteriously into full blown, sweat filled, amen-alleluia, God-is-a-coming-soon, sermons. They become the type of interaction where everybody is wet with perspiration – no matter the temperature inside or out. With all nobility swept aside, a dialogue into your kid’s behavior barely stays a nanosecond in the teaching mode before leaping at warp speed into preaching. Of course, that is how it should be: they need it.
Each communication method has its own benefits and hindrances; the use of either is not a matter of right vs. wrong, but more a selection of appropriate timing. Teaching, or coaching as it is called in sports, is a service that is nearly unencumbered as to “when” it is applied; it is always acceptable to teach. Circumstances and companions will dictate the depth and length of the lesson; which, subject to your role as teacher or student, can range from a moment to seemingly, an eternity. Yet with all viewpoints included, teaching is mostly about giving. One person gives their knowledge, experience, or opinion to another – it is meant to be an unselfish act of sharing. The acceptance of all, or part of the lesson, is completely the responsibility and choice, of the recipient. I think that is where to “leading a horse to water…” saying came from.