‘I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I know that same faith continues strong in you» (2 Timothy 1:5, NLT)
Dr. Christopher Trotter, a researcher at Monash University in Melbourne (Australia), is an international expert in indirect learning or learning by imitation. The majority of his studies were conducted at prison communities. Instead of using traditional methods (prizes, punishment, threats, and rewards), the results of which are generally poor for inmates, Trotter used the indirect learning method or imitation. Soon, this system extended to many penitentiary institutions.
How does indirect learning work? The prison officers displayed behaviors like arriving on time at appointments, being honest and reliable, finishing what they started, respecting others’ feelings, showing empathy to the afflicted, expressing ideas against criminal behavior, supporting friendships with non-delinquent peers, praising the advantages of family life and the value of labor, answering positively to the intentions of others, and mentioning the good consequences of living in accordance with the law. The results are consistent: the inmates tend to generally copy this behavior. It works for inmates with shorter sentences and those with longer ones and for women and men. To sum up, good example, without the use of sermons or threats, produces a better behavior in the participants than in the inmates who were not exposed to the good example.
According to the Bible, moral behaviors, beliefs, values, and faith can also be transmitted through indirect learning. Today’s text is an example of that. In short, the apostle Paul declares that young Timothy was the product of the example observed in a rich spiritual environment. Undoubtedly, the young boy observed the behavior of his mother Eunice and his grandmother Loida. These women must have been magnificent examples of prayer and action, giving glory to God and supporting their neighbors in their material and spiritual needs. Since he was a child, Timothy must have attentively witnessed their example, imitating them for the rest of his life.
f you have children, remember that the effect of your example is more efficient lasting than logical and compelling discussions. Show an exemplary behavior before the members of your family or social circle, and notice how God will bless the results.