The Importance of Being Ernest

My 19-year-old daughter now buys her clothes at the likes of H&M or the Gap, but it seems like just yesterday that I used to outfit her in sweet dresses I had smocked and sewn. I took great pains with those dresses, and fortunately I had a little girl who wore them willingly and proudly.

(Normally here I would insert a photo 
or two of said dresses, 
but I don't have a scanner 
to scan these ancient pre-digital pictures! 
Maybe one of these days!)

I took the time to add subtle but time-consuming details to Abby's dresses, too. I hand sewed in scalloped hems, often shadow embroidering a little rose or spray of flowers at the peak of each scallop. I'd attach fine lace with entredeux, use French seams on the inside of the dresses, and make dainty little button holes for specialty buttons.

For about 8 years I was passionate about French hand sewing, smocking and creating heirloom quality dresses for my daughter. And people noticed. They complimented Abby's clothes, inquired about the details I had lovingly included in each garment, and even asked me to teach them what I knew. And I had the opportunity to share my love of smocking and sewing with many women, hopefully igniting the same passion in them.

Be conscientious about how you live 
and what you teach. 
Persevere in this, 
because by doing so 
you will save both yourself 
and those who listen to you.
(1 Timothy 4:16)

One of the scriptures I've put to memory this year and continue to meditate on several times each day is 1 Timothy 4:16. This scripture exhorts me to take great pains in constructing other kinds of garments: the fabric of my life and the mantle of my message.

As a speaker and writer I hear the charge to diligently study, absorb God's Word, wrestle with it, and communicate it concisely, leaving as little room as possible for error. Paul's directive to his protege Timothy reminds me to take seriously the calling and responsibility of communicating God's Word with clarity, authenticity, humility, and precision.

But 1 Timothy 4:16 also includes a broader charge, one you and I both need to heed on a daily basis. Paul encourages us to take great pains with how we live our lives. Why? Because people are watching and listening. And if I've consistently taken great pains with how I live, I have the potential opportunity to share with them the love of my God. 

Conscientious living grants me credentials for having an influence in my world, not just from the podium or the pen, but wherever I am.

As I meditate on this scripture each day, it strikes me differently at different times. Sometimes I feel the reminder to watch my words, hold my tongue more often than not, speak only that which edifies and give grace. Other times I hear the call loud and clear to invest my children, my husband, my ministry or other people. And then sometimes I am simply reminded to "proceed with caution," being ever aware of how or whether I am glorifying my God well in all I do and say, and even in my countenance.

When you read this scripture today, what reminder does it speak to you? In what way do you need to take greater pains with either your life or your message?

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