Have you been in a place where you couldn’t do what you see, but only what you hear? How do you live a life by being careful about following what you hear only, but not what you see?
Most of us tend to do what we see or maybe we are wired to watch and copy. Children often pick up on what they see their parents do. My little daughter was hardly two years old when I saw her putting a pencil into her ears. Well, something she had seen her father do. That day I understood how important it is to act reasonably when my little children are around. I still make mistakes and often do what I don’t want my children to pick up as a habit. As humans, it’s one of our critical learning faculties—doing what we see.
What do we do then when what we see has become corrupt? One of the tragedies of our generation is the lack of role models. They have become non-existent. Many preachers, including myself, have become those who don’t really practice what they preach. Most in the public office would say, “My private life is separate from my public life.” Even in the Christian world, people create that separation between the sacred and the secular. This has caused a tremendous downfall in a culture that promotes many good ideas but fewer actions. Some even tell us to walk the talk, but we get to watch them fight, push and hate to hold on to their power and promote their own agendas. I am guilty here, and I feel helpless.
Jesus saw this coming many years ago. He mentioned those leaders as ones who like to be recognized, accepted and appreciated in social, spiritual, and public places. They want to be teachers but they do not want to do the work, except to give good ideas.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So, you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matt 23:1–12).
What’s the remedy or is there a way out? How do we distinguish the voice that speaks to us to do the right thing, walk the hard path, and be a servant? It all comes to opening our inner eyes and sometimes shutting our outside eyes, hearing the voice that speaks within us, and not giving in to the noise out there in the world.
I am asking myself: How often have I made others to walk with their eyes closed and ears open to what I do and say?
My prayer is: How do I move from being a person who does everything for a show for others to one who does for others—even when no one is seeing?