Daily Prompt: Take It From Me (Also Known As “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”)

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself?

Daily Prompt: Take It From Me

One of the things that always set my teeth on edge was when my parents would say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Aaahhh! Does anyone else hate to hear that? Did anyone else ever rebel against that? Did you ever swear to yourself, very self-righteously, “I would never say or do that?” Did you ever catch yourself doing that very thing you swore you would never do?

I have to confess to you – I really didn’t and don’t like this daily prompt. It forces me to examine my heart too closely, and I don’t like what I see in it. It’s painful, and what I thought would just be a fun little exercise in writing doesn’t feel very fun at the moment, because I’m having a hard time figuring out which “piece of advice I’ve given to someone else that I failed to take”, I should use. I wonder if anyone else feels this way?

Suddenly, I’m beginning to wonder, “Is this really a daily prompt or is it something more? Is it possible that God wants me to spend some time examining my heart?” My mind immediately goes to a scripture that I often pray, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

Ok, so this daily prompt is an answer to prayer, a painful answer. Where do I start? Much of the advice I give to others comes from experience, which is why I can’t condemn someone for failing to do the right thing.

When my daughter confessed to me that she was pregnant, out of wedlock, how could I condemn her? Although I didn’t get pregnant out of wedlock, I could have, because the only difference between her actions and mine was the pregnancy that resulted. I told her not to do as I had done… Another “Do As I Say, Not As I Do?” Actually, it was really “Do As I Say, Not As I Did.”

Or how about when I’ve advised people, very wisely, not to lie. Always be honest… I couldn’t even tell you how many times in my life I’ve lied to save my own neck. There was a time in my life when I was younger, that I lied so much I began to think the truth was a lie. I regret that, and I’ve asked God to forgive me, which He has done… But there you have it, another instance of “Do As I Say, Not As I Did.” 

How about the times I advised my children, the children of others, and adult men and women not to smoke, because it is hazardous to your health? I smoked for 24 years, from the time I was 12 years old, until I quit at the age of 36. This is yet another instance of “Do As I Say, Not As I Did.”

Oh yes, and I also advise people not to drink in excess, and do not abuse drugs, and yet, in my youth, I did all of that. As I reflect on it, I believe that a lot of my life has been “Do As I Say, Not As I Did.” 

And unfortunately, some of it is still, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.” When I minister, I often advise people, “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT) Yes, as I think about it, this and one other sin, Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 NLT), are the things that I continue to struggle with, while advising others not to fall into their traps.

I believe my aversion to “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,”  and “Do As I Say, Not As I Did” has diminished. You see, when I advise people  to “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,”  or “Do As I Say, Not As I Did” (and even though I don’t use those words, it’s exactly what I’m doing), I’m speaking to them in love, hoping and praying that they don’t make the same mistakes and fall into the same pitfalls that I have fallen into. Is it possible that this was my parents’ motivation as well? And is it possible, that when I rebelliously decided that I would never advise someone not to do what I’m doing, that I was misjudging my parents, which is another piece of advice I give to others… “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.” (Matthew 7:1-2 NLT) 

So there we have it – a daily prompt that I thought would be a mere play with words turned into a self-examination, revealing that there is still a lot of work to be completed in me. What a relief for me to know that, God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again. (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

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