Like mother, like child

“Let’s take a look at the mother plant.”

This is a phrase often used by those of us who love to share plants and help others design and plan their gardens. An awkward, sideways sprig of Callicarpa is not a true indication of the mature plant that will anchor the garden with its wide, arching branches.

The two unevenly sized light green leaves of the baby hosta will not brighten up a shade garden like it will when it acquires the striking variegation of its parent on its spreading foliage.

A careful look at the “mother plant” will very often give a good indication of what to expect from the offspring.

“Helianthus Maximillianii” will grow twelve feet tall, and need support. Many a gardener has decided against planting them after seeing a picture of the mother. Still others have excitedly asked if they can have more than one!

A spindly “Melissa Officianalis” should grow into a rounded perennial, and will need only two feet of space when mature. Seeing the “mother plant” will help in planning.

While the adage is true, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree,” there is also such a thing as growth and maturity.

This is often seen in the plant world, and also the human side of things. For instance, our children never took an interest in cooking while they were growing up, try as I might to teach them. Now, two of them are expert cooks! They just needed time to grow into those skills.

Not all children resemble their mothers in every aspect, of course. Their fathers also have a huge influence, and to a lesser extent the people with whom they interact as they grow up. Teachers, aunts and uncles, teammates and coaches; all have an influence on a young heart.

What we model before our young ones can make a lasting impression, for good or for ill. When we show generosity, hospitality, kindness, and caring, we will see our children do the same. When our lives are diseased by pettiness, selfishness, complaining, or sloth, it can be mirrored by our offspring.

The scary thing is that we may not see clearly what we are teaching by example — until we see it in our children!

It would be wise for us to prayerfully consider what we are modeling day by day.

Christians are told to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).

We often find great examples to follow right in our own church family!

“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1 Thessalonians 1:5-7, NASB).

The Christians in Thessalonica first imitated, then set the example for others to imitate. We must find worthy role models for ourselves, in order to set the example for others. Of course, the ultimate model is our God.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).

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