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One of my favorite symbols used in the Bible is that of sheep and lambs. I think one reason I love the parables and lessons taught using lambs is because when I was growing up, I showed lambs in 4-H. I have an understanding of how sheep operate, so these stories make perfect sense to me.
Even if you do not have experience with sheep, I think this poem will make perfect sense to you. It is by C.C. Miller:
’Twas a sheep not a lamb
That strayed away in the parable Jesus told,
A grown-up sheep that strayed away
From the ninety and nine in the fold.
And why for the sheep should we seek
And earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger when sheep go wrong:
They lead the lambs astray.
Lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray.
When sheep go wrong,
It won’t take long till the lambs are as wrong as they.
And so with the sheep we earnestly plead
For the sake of the lambs today,
For when the sheep are lost
What a terrible cost
The lambs will have to pay
So who is the sheep in comparison to a family? One of the parents. The lamb is a child. As this poem points out, when sheep [parents] go wrong, lambs [children] follow. It is utterly important that we, the parents, lead by correct example because our children will follow our example. “Monkey see, monkey do” works, “do as I say and not as I do” does not.
Last night, my husband and I were visiting with some friends. We were talking about things parents do that children grow up to resent. One made the observation that when a parent does something that leads the child down the wrong path, often those children end up turning against the church (if the parent is religious). Children for the most part do not want to be estranged from parents, so to blame a parent for their mistakes can be too painful. It is easier to pass that blame to something that strongly guided parents, and for many that is religion. So if you go astray in an area, not only do you lead your children down that path behind you, but you run the risk of your children blaming something like religion for your misteps.
When you do the day to day things like family prayers, family scripture study, family lessons, your children will rarely look back on what you did and remember the details. They will not remember the words you said or the scripture you shared in specifics (most of the time–there will likely be a few profound moments they hold on to, but for the most part, specifics will escape them). What they will remember is your consistency (or lack thereof). They won’t remember the words of your prayers, but they will remember that you prayed. That is the path you showed them, and that is the path they will follow you down.
As the family works together on these things, we will be stronger in them and better at being consistent. In a talk by Elder Richard J. Maynes, he quotes his 8 year old grandson, who says:
“Families can be like ropes. When only one person is working hard and doing what is right, the family will not be as strong as when everyone is putting forth the effort to help each other.” Full Text Here
Isn’t that great that an 8 year old would make that conclusion? One strand of a rope is not very strong, but all of the strands together make a very strong rope. The whole family working together makes a strong, cohesive unit.
Be a good sheep. Walk the paths you want your children to walk. Lambs follow their parents, from time management, to hobbies, to spirituality. Be sure you take them down paths you want them to follow.
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