Ideas and Consequences: The Power of Positive Example

A good example is far better than a good precept Dwight L. Moody

As an academician and former professor who taught at the college level for seven years, I feel that being with students again is much like coming home. There is much about the academic environment that shines as a beacon for the rest of society—not the least of which is the principle of genuine intellectual inquiry—tolerance, an openness, and indeed, an encouragement of new ideas and a wide range of perspectives.

An institution of higher learning is a marketplace of ideas, where ideas are shared, discussed, debated, sometimes debunked, but always treated with respect, never dismissed without thought or reason, and never feared. In the spirit of true academia, truth is not advanced by stereotyping, by shallow epithets, by innuendo or insinuation, or by suggesting that those with different views should not be heard. Those who labor and study in our centers of learning must be made of stronger stuff than that. If they are not, the prospects for a free, virtuous, and compassionate society as a whole are slim. We should judge ideas as we should judge the people who bring them to the marketplace—on their merits. The thing I have always found refreshing about the traditional academic environment is the premium it places on thinking. True thinkers can disagree without being disagreeable. By nature, they reject the thought police.

Graduates, you are about to step into a world you will shape for years to come. I know it’s customary, maybe even hackneyed, for commencement speakers to say at least a dozen times in their address: “You are the future.” We all know that. What I would like to prompt you to think about is, How do you want to shape that future? How do you want your influence to be expressed?

I would like each of you to close your eyes for just a few seconds and think of one or two people who have motivated you, encouraged you, spurred you on . . . . Ask yourself, was it because of what they said, or what they did?; how they talked, or how they behaved?

My guess is that for most of you what those people did and how they behaved—in other words, the example they were (or are) for you—has had the more lasting and meaningful impact. Certainly, no one is inspired in a positive way by the hypocrite or by the unprincipled. Paraphrasing Emerson, “What you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you’re saying.”

If you reflect further, I believe you will agree with me that each of us is inspired far more by the power of positive example than by command or threats. This is not to say that those who have wielded great power at the point of a gun have not had a profound impact. But doesn’t it mean so much more to us to earn the respect of others as opposed to commanding it? How much have we really won, if others pay attention not because they want to but because they have to?

I can think of so many things I wish more people would do. I wish they would value education more highly and read to their children. I wish they would show more concern for those around them in need and do something about it. I wish they would work harder at being the very best at whatever they’ve chosen as their life’s work. I wish they would take more seriously the responsibilities of being free citizens in a democratic society. I wish they would show more respect for the lives and property of others. I wish they would be better neighbors, more caring friends, more honest politicians, more responsible business associates.

I suppose we could devise all sorts of laws that would attempt to coerce more people in these directions and that would penalize them if they failed to comply. But that approach, frankly, leaves me with a feeling of hollowness. I don’t want a society in which people do the right thing just because they have to when they really don’t want to. And I believe strongly that the most effective teaching method and at the same time, sadly, the most underappreciated teaching method—is the power of a positive example. It isn’t a quick fix, it doesn’t promise instant gratification, but in the long run, it makes all the difference in the world.

Forcing a person to go to church doesn’t make him religious any more than forcing him to stand in a garage makes him a car. You don’t make a person truly loyal by forbidding disagreement. You don’t make a person charitable by robbing him at gunpoint and spending his money on good things.

The test of a true leader, it’s often been noted, is not how many people you can coerce into submission or intimidate into silence, but how far others will go to follow you because they are attracted to your mission of their own free will. The attraction is the power of your example.

The late Leonard Read, the founder of The Foundation for Economic Education, was fond of relating a story which I would like to paraphrase here and apply to myself: I’m terrible at golf, but I golf anyway. When I show up at the course, not surprisingly, no throngs appear. No one watches me to see how it’s done. But let a Palmer or a Nicklaus or a Watson or a Trevino show up, and instantly the crowds gather, seeking his tutelage. The British statesman Edmund Burke once said, “Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.” I especially like the way Mark Twain said it, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

I am sure that no one here is entirely happy with the world the way it is. To some extent, all of us are would-be reformers of the world, whatever our personal philosophical inclinations may be. What we sometimes forget in our haste to reform the world is that we must first reform ourselves, one at a time and none of us has yet done all we can in that regard. We chronically underestimate how much influence for good we can be by simply being better individuals—not pontificating about doing good, but actually being good—and doing it with our own resources, not someone else’s—living it, serving as an inspiration for others. By underestimating our ability to shape the future of society by shaping ourselves first, we sometimes meddle in the lives of others while allowing our own to fall into disrepair.

In recent years, we have been treated to a great deal of public moralizing from some who have postured as our self-appointed moral authorities. But moralizing and morals are two different things and sometimes are not found in the same person. Individuals who preach about the morals of the rest of us while living their own lives to the very standards they prescribe do certainly exist, but I suspect that the greatest influence for good comes from those quiet folks who make morals, not moralizing, their vocation.

An item from a newspaper caught my eye some years ago because it made this very point. The story came from the little town of Conyers, Georgia. When school officials there discovered that one of their basketball players who had played 45 seconds in the first of the school’s five postseason games had actually been scholastically ineligible, they returned the state championship trophy the school team had won a few weeks before. If they had simply kept quiet, probably no one else ever would have known about it and the school could have retained the trophy.

The really amazing thing was that the team and the town, dejected though they were, rallied behind the school’s decision. The coach was quoted as saying, “We didn’t know he was ineligible at the time . . . but you’ve got to do what’s honest and right and what the rules say. I told my team that people forget the scores of the games; they don’t ever forget what you’re made of.”

In the minds of most, it didn’t matter that the championship title was forfeited. That coach and that team were still champions, and in more ways than one. We should ask ourselves, “Could I have mustered the courage to do the same?”

I suppose some of you might be thinking, “Okay, so he’s telling us to be good. So did Mother. What else is new?”

What I’m saying is, keep your youthful zeal for doing good and for changing the world. Some may call you idealistic, but progress is never made without ideals, and those who champion them are the examples we most admire and remember.

Resolve that you will indeed make your mark and shape society for the better, but understand that it is not enough to preach to others, no matter how good it might make you feel inside. It is not enough, indeed it’s almost always counterproductive, to try to shape the world by the use of force or political decree. You have it within your power to wield great influence. Just recognize that how great that influence will be, is in direct proportion to your ability as a shining example to attract others to your cause.

Graduates—with the degrees you’ve worked long and hard to achieve, you have a head start on success in life. Now it’s up to you to rise to the duty of becoming the very best examples you can possibly be in every aspect of all that you do.

Today’s article was written by Lawrence W. Reed. Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Foundation for Economic Education and author of Real Heroes: Incredible True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction and Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism. This article is an adaptation of the commencement address delivered on May 7, 1994, by Lawrence W. Reed to an audience of 6,000 at Central Michigan University (CMU) in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. This article is shared from the following website: https://fee.org/articles/ideas-and-consequences-the-power-of-positive-example/

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The Power of Example

There is form of communication  that transcends the  power of words   Joseph B. Wirthlin

The Power of Example

Some of the world’s top squash players used to practise at the squash club where I play. I remember well the first time I saw at close hand a high-level squash game. It was the son of one of our regular group of players, who at the time was ranked number 11 in the world. He came to practice at our club with the world number 2.

We all watched in amazement. We had never seen anything like it. In fact, if that was ‘squash’, what we played should be called something else!

Watching them always raised our game. Suddenly we realized that it was possible to return practically any shot your opponent could serve you, however good they were. We saw how important it was to get back to the middle of the court after each shot. We watched how deep they hit the ball. We noticed the shots that they avoided playing.

When we went on court after that, we astonished ourselves by how well we played. Of course, we did not play anywhere near as well as them. But, inspired by their example, we played a whole lot better than usual.

During my Christian life I have found the same pattern. For example, I had the privilege of working for Sandy Millar for nineteen years. Through watching his life and hearing him preach I was always inspired by his example. Even though reaching the level of those who are examples to us might not be possible, hopefully it inspires us to raise our game.

A Christian is someone who believes in Jesus, puts their faith in him, knows him and lives ‘in Christ’. It is also someone who follows his example.

There is no greater example in human history than the example of Christ. Paul writes, ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

1. Example of your life

Proverbs 20:5-14How you live affects others. You look to others for an example. Others look to you as an example. This happens whether you like it or not.

Nowhere is this more the case than with parents and children. I have noticed how many of my father’s eccentricities I seem to have picked up. Of course, parents provide examples in more serious ways too: ‘The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them’ (v.7).

Parents who live lives of integrity bring great blessings to their children. Billy Graham said, ‘Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.’

No one has ever lived a perfect life apart from Jesus: ‘Who among us can be trusted to be always diligent and honest?’ (v.9, MSG). Nevertheless, we can all seek to live a life that is a good example.

Parents need to demonstrate faithfulness to each other, treating one another with patience and respect, resolving disagreements with grace, supporting one another in hardship and not being drawn into inappropriate relationships with other people. ‘Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?’ (v.6).

Today’s inspirational articles shared from the following website: www.bibleinoneyear.org

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What is Your Legacy?

Colorful spotlights shining on an empty stage

What is your legacy? How would you like to be remembered? Have you taken some time to think about what true success really is and what it looks like when the time comes to make the transition back to God’s realm?

Will you be remembered for your wonderful example, kind word, and many deeds of service or will your loved ones remember that you never had time, always complained about life and did your best to make others miserable?

Life always gives us the choice to be the molder of our lives. Here’s a story to inspire you!:

About a hundred years ago, a man looked at the morning newspaper and to his surprise and horror, read his name in the obituary column. The news papers had reported the death of the wrong person by mistake. His first response was shock. Am I here or there? When he regained his composure, his second thought was to find out what people had said about him. The obituary read, “Dynamite King Dies.” And also “He was the merchant of death.” This man was the inventor of dynamite and when he read the words “merchant of death,” he asked himself a question, “Is this how I am going to be remembered?” He got in touch with his feelings and decided that this was not the way he wanted to be remembered. From that day on, he started working toward peace. His name was Alfred Nobel and he is remembered today by the great Nobel Prize.

Just as Alfred Nobel got in touch with his feelings and redefined his values, we should step back and do the same.

What is your legacy?

How would you like to be remembered?

Will you be spoken well of?

Will you be remembered with love and respect?

Will you be missed?

Today’s story is shared from great-motivational-stories.blogspot.com

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Super Mom…

Super mom mother-429156Motherhood is such a tough job. Yet, though the rewarding moments may come infrequently, I believe that motherhood is one of the most important jobs in this world. Few others can shape a child and the world in which we live like a mother. I have seen the effect that I have had on my first four children. (Which I think/hope is mostly positive?!)  I have also seen the effect of their birth mother on my adopted children. Although my adopted son was four and my adopted daughter was nine when we adopted them, the emotional damage received as a result of a mother who frequently abandoned her children still continues to plague my children and our family. Their ability to love, trust and allow themselves to be vulnerable has been significantly compromised. Just like innocent victims in a car accident, they are left not really understanding why it had to happen to them and though the damage and neglect was not their fault, they each must be the one who does the work of recovery. I hope that every mother who feels the burden of her frequently thankless job will know that heaven thanks you for all of the sleepless nights, sacrifices made, moral instruction, positive example setting and nurturing that you do and so do I. Though I know that few days FEEL that way, as mothers, we truly are in a partnership with God. With God’s help, we are the ones who are most able to effect positive changes in this world. When the world needs change, God sends a babies into the hands and hearts of women who will raise, nurture, and instill values and principles within those children that will enable them to rise above adversity and become a part of the positive solutions needed to address the various problems of this world. God knows that the super heroes of this world are not leaders of government – they are the mothers (and fathers) who are daily in the trenches of family life; loving the sometimes unlovable, teaching children who often seem unreachable, and giving their families all of their energy even though that energy vanished with the morning chores. Tonight, as you prepare for bed, give yourself a pat on the back; for today you were a part of the super hero work of raising responsible children!

 

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To Live Greatly…

To live greatly 871849Today I received a photograph of my 10 year old granddaughter Kamrey. She was smiling – smiling despite being connected to numerous tubes, monitors and a nasal cannula for breathing. She was having a short break from the face mask that normally supplies her oxygen. Kamrey was severely injured in a rock slide and has been in a pediatrics ICU for just over a month. I know, because God has promised, that she will heal and she will eventually resume a normal life. In the meantime, she has been an inspiration to me. She has had tremendous pain yet she has not complained. In the moments since her accident, she has literally feared for her life – yet she has trusted and faced her situation with courage. She has all the reasons in the world to feel like God has picked on her – yet I know when she is able to talk again that she will express gratitude for His help in her healing. I know that when the day comes that Kamrey is able to go home, she will do so with the determination to rebuild her strength and to regain her complete health. Kamrey is a fighter. That characteristic has and will serve her well. Kamrey is also a natural athlete. That quality will also serve her well. However, the quality that will serve her and this world best is her ability to think of others before herself. Just a few months ago, Kamrey was in a race. Kamrey could have placed well in her race but Kamrey stopped to help a struggling little girl who was feeling overwhelmed. Kamrey offered to run beside her and then did. When the race was over, in my mind, Kamrey was the biggest winner of all. Kamrey is an incredible example of living greatly to me. If you have stories of others living greatly, I hope that you will share them with me. In the meantime, will you help me pray for Kamrey? Prayers have already blessed her and given her strength but she has a long recovery ahead of her and I would appreciate all the strength and healing that prayers and angels can provide for my sweet granddaughter 🙂

 

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