I seem to be aging at an alarming rate. Just a couple of years ago, I was excited to find out that a new group for Young Clergy was being formed, and then I was told that I was no longer a “young clergy.” It seems as if it was just yesterday when I looked into the mirror and saw my fifteen year-old face staring back. Now my father seems to be impeding my view each morning when I look in the mirror. If that wasn’t enough, there is this young man, who is taller than I am, walking around my home claiming to be my son. And somehow, the little baby I brought home from the hospital just a couple of years ago is in college.
Last week, my eleven year-old informed me that it was now his job to take care of me because I was old. After my initial shock, I asked him how he could possibly be qualified to take care of himself, his mother and me. Without missing a beat, he said, “Not a problem daddy. You taught me everything you know.”
In Deuteronomy, Moses is explaining the essence of the commandments to the people of Israel (chapters 10 and 11). In doing so, he tells them to embed God‘s words in their hearts and teach them to their children so that they and their children “may live a long time…on the soil that GOD promised…” In chapter four, Moses reminds the people not to forget what they saw God do, and to make sure they tell the children so that the children learn what God is capable of doing.
There seems to be an invisible line that we cross unknowingly when we move from the primary role of student to that of teacher. Although we never lose the need to learn, we must be willing to pass along that which we already know and have experienced. It is so easy to become too immersed in what we want to experience and learn that we fail to bring children and others along with us on the journey. If we don‘t hold open the door and teach, the truth dies with us. Our experiences and the lessons we‘ve learned will fade away. The real legacy that we leave will not be measured in what we‘ve learned and accomplished ourselves, but in the success that we have made possible by what we have taught to those who come after us.