I enjoy gardening, but have not always lived in locations that made it feasible. Whenever possible, we always have planted a small garden. One year, our garden grew especially well and the vines stretched across the rows leaving very little room to walk. Our middle son was about three years old, and loved helping in the garden. I always gave special instructions on how to walk through the jungle of vines. But he never listened and always wound up falling on the vines. I never understood why he found it so difficult until I stopped walking long enough to watch him. Instead of looking for his own spots in which to step, he was trying to walk in my footsteps. Because I was taking such large steps, he kept falling down.
In his letter to Titus, Paul writes, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned… (Titus 2:7-8a).” This statement is made after several verses of Paul suggesting important topics that need to be taught to the people. Paul words remind us that teaching requires more than words…it requires a physical example.
Too often we are guilty of teaching with words only. We often forget that we are surrounded by people looking for a connection with God. Surrounded by people who are watching us so that they may know where and how step in order to experience God. It is not enough to talk about faith, prayer and worship. People need to physically see us connect with God in word and deed. There are many aspects of faith that cannot be explained, only experienced. People will always follow your footsteps more easily than they will follow your advice.