“This water taste funny,” I said to my father-in-law as we sat in his mother’s house.
“Oh yeah, don’t drink tap water here. It’s got too much sulfur in it. I mean, it’s okay if you want to, but if you drink too much you’ll just go blind and grow a third nipple.”
A classic response from the notorious prankster in the family. His next words stuck with me though, “Yeah, growing up I always thought the water tasted weird when I would visit other places. It was only when I moved away and came back to visit that I began to realize the bad water was actually here.”
It got me thinking, so often we don’t know what is actually normal and good until we experience something that actually is normal and good. This same principle applies to the types of leaders and mentors we surround ourselves with.
We Are Always Learning from Someone
People are followers, imitators, constantly looking and then imitating what we have seen. When my son was two years old I remember when he started saying “Oh my!”
“Do you want to go outside Logan?”
“Do you like this new Iron Man toy?”
My wife and I laughed at this phrase coming out of such a little person, wondering where he learned it. Shortly thereafter we both began to realize we were the ones who taught him this phase because we both said it all the time in daily conversation, “Oh my, you dropped the juice all over the carpet again.”
For better or worse, our children are learning their phrases, mannerisms, and everything else from us. When I start grunting in anger at some chore around the house that is not going well, I suddenly have a little boy behind me grunting and shaking his fist like dear old dad . . . “Oh my, what am I teaching him?” I think to myself.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all pattern ourselves after someone. As we grow, we become more and more like the people we are learning from. Whether it’s people on TV, our coworkers, or those we live with, who we learn from is who we will become like.
Who You Learn From Is Who You Will Become Like
Jesus assumes this premise in Luke 6:40. He doesn’t say we will be like our teacher if we have a teacher. Jesus knows we all have a teacher, for he states, “but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” He just naturally assumes you do have a teacher. We will never stop learning. We are all constantly being shaped. The clock of progression or regression never stops ticking. The question, therefore, to ask is not “Am I learning from anyone?” but “Who am I currently learning from?”
If you are not intentionally learning from good teachers, you will unintentionally learn from bad ones. You might not even know you have a bad teacher until you go out of your way to seek a good one.
Since we all will become like those who teach us, let us pay the utmost attention to who our teachers really are. For who we learn from will be who we become like.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.