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Pointers along the way #188

Learning things first hand
- Jacob Ninan

Psychologists have discovered that we learn most of our behaviour patterns in our childhood itself, by observing our parents or others around us. Since we do not have much sense in those days to judge things for ourselves, we simply imitate what we see, and these become deeply ingrained in our psyche. Unfortunately, even for those of us who can think that we have had the best of parents the fact is that they, just like us, were imperfect people, who did not always know the best things to do or tell us. And others who have had a troubled childhood have much more baggage from their past. Isn't it necessary for us to think for ourselves now, understand whether we are behaving in the best possible way, and make changes wherever necessary?

Certainly times have also changed from the days of our parents, and what was 'good' for them is not necessarily what we can do now. I am not talking about the eternal truths, values and principles that we have from the Bible, but practical things of daily life. We know that our music, clothes, hairstyles, etc., are different. Also our jobs are different, as are vocabulary, communications, money transactions, travel, food habits, etc. Each of us has to keep adjusting ourselves to the changing times, within the boundaries of godly values, if we are not to be out of sync. Though 'change' always takes thought and effort, it is something we cannot afford to neglect.

The parents' hearts may ache to see their children take different paths than what they are used to. But godly parents will rejoice when their children come around to the place of maturity even if they have had some struggles on the way (3Jn.1:4). Wise parents will allow their children to be different, as long as they know that the children's hearts are right, even if their heads may be a bit confused for a short while as they struggle with the choices.

Think of the situation in churches too. Each of us has to learn for ourselves what it is to trust and follow the Lord. It is not good for us to accept what someone else teaches without examining and understanding it for ourselves. A wise pastor will encourage individual development of those in the church (and also as a group) because they know that when they grow up they would be assets to the church.

Going along with the crowd without any thought as to what God wants, is what most people choose as a compromise, because this saves them the trouble of thinking for themselves. For those who commit themselves to obeying God in everything, life can become a big struggle at times because we are unsure of what we should do. But this struggle pays much at the end because we become wiser and more mature as we exercise discernment (He.5:14). The testing of our faithfulness will lead us to the 'crown of life' (Jas.1:12). Such people learn how to stand on their own feet with God and walk with Him, and not be dependent on others. Finally they will be able to help others too.