“. . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
When asked where I learned the most about business and leadership I always answer without hesitation that it was from my grandfather. Now that may not sound so strange except that I was only nine years old when my grandfather passed away, and I don’t ever recall having even an inkling of conversation with him about business. And even if I had I doubt I would have understood what he was talking about. In fact, I don’t remember many conversations with grandfather at all about much of anything. I did spend a fair amount of time with my grandfather in the few short years we had together, though, and what I do remember vividly about him was his character and the way he lived his life.
I’ve often wondered, was my grandfather aware that my young mind was paying attention, that his character and behavior were having a profound influence on me? I’d be surprised if he had been the least bit aware based on my own experience as a grandfather. I’m usually too busy either entertaining my grandchildren or tending to their immediate needs.
So here’s a question we should all consider. Who’s watching us? What young minds are observing our character and the way we live our lives? In his book The Abolition of Man C. S. Lewis, one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century, makes the case “that if we fail to pass along specific standards of right and wrong, of what is worthwhile or worthless, admirable or ignoble, then we must share blame for the consequent failings of character.” (Quote by William J. Bennett)
Without even realizing it, but simply by the way he lived my grandfather passed along those standards referred to by C. S. Lewis. And it is our responsibility to ensure those same standards get passed along to the next generation, not through our words, but by our character and the way we live our lives. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”