Life Notes: Are You a Role Model?
by Tammy Stevens

Have you ever thought much about what this means? What is it? Who is it? I had never thought of myself as a “role model” before – that is – before I started working at the Methodist Children’s Home. I thought I wasn’t “qualified” for that title. After all, I was never a cheerleader, never a class officer, never much of a leader at anything. I was never a teacher and never a preacher and I was certainly not voted “most likely to succeed.” So why would I ever be seen as a role model by these kids? I was clueless of the responsibility carried by that “title.”

In the early days of my career here at MCH, it was one of my role models – my boss – who defined this title for me. He said … “Live your life as if you lived in a fish bowl.” WOW! Take a second, and process THAT one!! A FISH BOWL! At that very moment I realized I should find a different job! It also dawned on me at the same time that being a role model was not an appointed position nor was it something you did for a few hours when people were watching you – that, my friend, is called “a politician,” and the two are NOT the same.

No, being a role model is being an influence on people in ALL that you do, especially with kids. Kids, by nature, look to others to set their “gauges” – how they talk, how they dress, what’s cool, how they treat others, etc. Notice how we become more and more like our parents as we grow older – YIKES!! It’s true. Parents are the prime source of “role modeling”, good or bad. It all rubs off.

Here at the Children’s Home, instead of a fish bowl, it is more like “the Aquarium of the Americas.” We have a huge tank with lots of other “fishy” kinds to interact with-and hundreds of little spectator eyes, watching our every move. What a job, what a challenge, what a chance–a chance to hopefully make a difference in the life of a young person, to be a role model of a “different sort,” for a change.

As I was leaving our main office today, I saw a GENUINE role model. He was not a noble leader nor a movie star, and he didn’t wear a suit or drive a fancy car. No, he was dressed in jeans, on his hands and knees, pulling weeds right beside one of our youth. I am guessing the child was pulling weeds as a consequence for a poor choice he had made earlier. I rarely find weed pulling to rank high in the “whole lotta’ fun” list for kids; therefore, why was one of our staff kneeling beside him pulling weeds, too? You guessed it – “role-modeling” – working beside the child and teaching through his actions. Now Robert Ball had no idea he would inspire me to write this just because of his interaction with that child, but he did. Immediately I thought of how this ole’ world could use more men and women like him-whose actions speak louder than words. Then I thought of others I know here and in our community who, like Robert, make a difference-simply by their actions. Now I ask you, “Are you sure you are NOT a role model?” You had better check who’s watching YOUR fish bowl!

The Life Notes articles are written by staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and are published in The Ruston Daily Leader.

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