“For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” –Romans 14:7
We all shall die and our bodies will return to the dust, but our influence lives on. It lingers like an invisible hand touching and guiding those we’ve come into contact with. And it is powerful! Much more than we realize. Understanding this makes every step significant.
While every loving parent wants to set a good example, and most make a conscious effort to do so, we all fail to some extent— mostly without even being aware of it. We fail to watch our step, for one reason, because we forget that others are watching our steps. In other words, we are not aware that they are aware– always watching, even from afar, both our attitude and actions.
Another thing that causes us to mislead others is that we forget the big importance of “little” things. A little stretching of the truth, a little crude language, a little fit of anger, etc. makes a huge impression on others. That “minor” matter becomes a major factor in another person’s life. Our slip leads to their slide, our failure to their fall. Our shadow becomes their snare— often without them even being aware that were shaped by our shadow. The fact is they might despise what they see in you and vow never to be like you, only to discover years later they became what they once hated. It goes without saying that the danger is all the worse if, for some reason, they admire you. Dare we not be at our best? Saying, ” Do as I say, not as I do”, isn’t good enough. The power of your influence will lead them to do things contrary to their own reasoning and your well meant advice.
We must make a constant conscious effort that our shadow doesn’t lead them astray. Were you infected with an awful infectious disease it would be a crime for you to go from house to house spreading your illness to others. Is it then not a sin to contaminate others with your corruption? Your actions, attitude, affections, and ambitions cause others to be influenced by the shadow you cast. We should do our best to see that they are never a stumbling-block to others ( see Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor. 8:13).
The shadow you cast will no doubt, for good or bad, affect others. God help us to so live as to make a positive influence on those we come into contact with, those who come under our shadow. Make no mistake about it, what you are is due, at least in part, to the shadow of others and your shadow will determine what others become. Let us endeavor to leave a legacy that will lead to a lovely life for all those who have passed through the shadow we cast.