Follow the Leader

I have ants on my mind tonight.  At the moment, I also have dozens of them infiltrating my bathroom, seeking higher, dryer ground after my husband hosed down the patio at the back of the house yesterday afternoon.  It creeps me out, really, and my fear of the situation — that they might, for example, crawl across the threshold into the master bedroom, up the headboard of my bed and all over my body while I’m sleeping — has led me to do some research. I find that learning about something I’m afraid of often dissipates my fear. So, from a stash of free books I’ve collected over the years, I grabbed Exploring the World of Social Insects, and prepared to conquer my phobia of carpenter ants.

Turns out, these black buggers and I have a lot in common.  For instance, both of us are highly organized, sociable, and have an insatiable sweet tooth.  We both lead a busy life, too, always doing something, hurrying this way or that, lugging food around so we can feed our young, and cleaning up our nests.  Most interestingly, scientists have found that older ants often pass on the fruits of their experience to the younger generation simply by playing a game of follow the leader.  Unfortunately for the ants in my bathroom, they are being led into a trap, lured by their acute sense of smell to a sweet, poisonous decoy.

And it makes me wonder if I’m doing the same thing.

This week in my morning devotions, I’ve been reminded of the daunting task of mothering, what an honor and privilege it is to teach my children but how overwhelming it is to think of the influence I can and do have in their lives.

A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40).

Do I want my kids to be like me?  Do I really want them to follow me like the ants follow their leader?  Most days, honestly, the answer is no.  My life and how I live it is not always worth imitating. But I know Someone whose is.  His teaching is radically different from what my own actions often demonstrate: love my enemies, don’t judge others, forgive.  Thankfully, in God’s schoolhouse, I get to sit on both sides of the desk, and as a student in His classroom — as I seek to follow His example and build my life around His teaching — He promises to give me all the tools and training I need to teach my kids, too.

And so tonight, then, my prayer to Him becomes:

Lord Jesus, thank you for using my current pest problem to show me how important it is to choose our teachers wisely.  Some day we will become like them. If we follow the wrong one, we run the risk of falling into a deadly trap. That’s why I choose to follow You.  Only You can keep me from taking the bait.  Help me to clean up my act before I even begin to think of teaching and leading others, especially my own children. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

Women in the Word

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