The following blog was contributed by Rachel Rell, a junior at the University of Notre Dame and a summer intern with the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).
As the oldest of six children, I often found myself calling out to our mom for help in yielding off the copying voices of my younger siblings. As I grew up, I began to notice the other areas my younger siblings copied me: ideas for art projects, food recommendations for dinner, favorite colors, the list goes on. Although this was largely an area of annoyance for me throughout my younger years, I began to see that my younger siblings were watching all that I did and copying it. Although having them choosing the same favorite color was annoying to me, the things I did were creating an impact on their lives and the habits they were developing. How I responded to situations and treated others was how they were going to act in the future. I have lived my whole life in a sphere of influence, and now have made it one of my guiding principles to live as though others are watching, because they are.
Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Even though I don’t believe this verse is written only for the young, it is one that I have built my life upon. Our culture today has taught us that leaders are strong, dominant and outspoken. But what about those of us that were not made this way? One of the many lessons my younger siblings have taught me is that leadership does not always look the way that it does in movies. Leadership is stepping up to be a role model for others and living up to the responsibilities involved with being a positive one. Our Church and our schools need these leaders more than ever. Our students need you to show them how to become the person God is calling them to be, not only through carefully laid out lesson plans, but through actions.
One of the reasons my parents chose Catholic school for my siblings and me, and one of the reasons I chose a Catholic university for myself, is the people that students are surrounded with. My teachers throughout the years provided me with positive role models at school to continue the emphasis on the values that my parents taught us at home. My teachers taught me not only math and English, but also helped to form my habits and values; my friends, not only hopscotch and jump rope rhymes, but what a true friend looks like. As Catholic school educators and proponents of Catholic education, the children that we form are the most important aspect of everything that we do. As those that they interact with on a daily basis, we can have a substantial impact on the habits they form and the people they become. We aren’t perfect. We make mistakes. But, it is the resolve to act intentionally, knowing that they are watching, that helps us to become the positive role models our children and students need. We have all heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words,” but it is a common phrase for a reason. So, live and teach as though your three-year-old sister is copying everything you do because although your sibling, child or student might not be watching, someone else’s probably is.