I've been subtly wilding lately.
I haven't been doing the most, but I have been slowly picking up habits that are, at their core, subtle rebellions to God. I've been lingering a bit longer on social media instead of praying, watching one more ratchet T.V. show than usual instead of making time for something more productive, laughing at a few more profanity-laced comedy clips than I would have tolerated before. Yeah, subtly wilding. Nothing in my behavior has been overtly egregious or blatantly sinful, but it has been enough to reveal the status of my heart. And something's off. And God's definitely been checking me on it.
Well the "checking me" continues because I got a "not-so-subtle" rebuke from God today as I gave a rebuke to a student. For those who don't know, in my professional life, I am a dean in the education world, and very often that means I am the one that has to reprimand misbehaving students. As was the case today. And very often when I reprimand a child, I end up getting the reprimand I needed. As was the case today.
Today, a teacher brought a student to my office because he hadn't completed his work. He had been "off-task". I asked what he was doing. The teacher then described his behaviors, and nothing he was doing was overtly egregious. They were just subtle things that were distracting him and his classmates. She asked if he could work in my office so he wouldn't be distracted, or distract anyone else, and could finish his task. Sure, take a seat, kid.
When he finished his work, I went to talk to him to try to pump him up and get him ready to do his work:
"Why weren't you finishing your work in class and talking to people around you?"
"Sometimes I get bored and I get distracted."
"Yeah, that happens sometimes, but how do you think your behavior affects other people?"
Enter the "not-so-subtle" rebuke from God. I felt so deeply in my spirit, "How do you think YOUR behavior affects people?"
Oops. Are you talking to me, Lord?
I continued to talk to the student, "If you are displaying poor behavior, other people will see that and think it's okay to do, and then they'll start doing it, too. Does that help other people?"
Dang. I was obviously talking to my own self at this point: I've been getting distracted and not finishing my work. I've developed habits that have put me "off-task" in my walk with God. I've been the one displaying poor behaviors and causing others around me to think it's okay. It's me. I'm the one. (This must have been how David felt when Nathan read him his rights. 2 Samuel 12)
Rebuke heard and felt loud and clear.
I then remembered Paul's encouragement to the young preacher Timothy to "set an example for other followers by what you say and do, as well as by your love, faith, and purity," (1 Timothy 4:12) and I asked myself, "Am I actually being a good example to anyone right now?" And I had to be honest, in some ways, I'm not. I have to get clear in my heart, what's going on that's causing me to be "off-task"? What behaviors am I displaying that are negatively influencing other people, even if I think it's not a big deal? And just like the teacher had to remove the student from around his peers to help him focus and not be distracted, are there situations or people I need to remove myself from to get back on track, too?
So I'm committing to being honest with God about those things and asking for His help so I can stop being distracted, get back to the work He has for me and then be an example to others. Because whether I like it or not, my behavior affects other people, and they're watching.