Kids deserve the very best. So why is it that when we give them role models, the “models” are rarely worthy of emulation? All I have to say is “Alex Rodriguez” or “Cory Monteith,” and you’ll understand. On August 8, three-time MVP Alex Rodriguez received a 1 ½-year suspension from Major League Baseball because he cheated and took performance-enhancing drugs over the course of several years. On July 13, the 30-year-old actor and musician Cory Monteith died of an alcohol and heroin overdose in a Vancouver hotel. The latter was beginning a promising career in the film industry; the former was at the pinnacle of a celebrated athletic career. Rodriguez’s suspension shocked friends and fans alike, as did Monteith’s death. Do you think the millions of kids who emulated these men will learn from their mistakes? No, they will more than likely repeat them.

Kids naturally follow those whom they admire, but parents and teachers need to instill a sense of which qualities are admirable in a role model. Otherwise, kids will set their sights on anything and anyone. Our society encourages them to follow those who are successful on the big screen, the dugout, the field, or the hard court. It equates popularity and talent with character and genuine leadership ability. With a skewed sense of values from the very outset, this is a formula for disaster. No wonder we are seeing so many kids who lack character — it is because they are being influenced by role models which have the same deficiency.

Do you want kids who will take shortcuts to reach the top, or who will use success as an excuse for throwing away their lives with vice? Of course not. Be the role model you want them to emulate. Show them the characteristics of godly role models in Scripture and even in your own life. Don’t leave the task of training your children to the sports arena, magazine rack, TV set, billboards, or movie screen. Character models best on the canvas which is your children. Boldly lead the way today.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.