The Law of Replication
A few days ago, our family was sitting around the table having dinner together. It wasn’t a fancy affair – just a casual Sunday night meal of hot dogs and French fries. There was a lull in the conversation, so naturally, I picked up a clothespin taken from a bag of potato chips and clamped it on my earlobe.
The pain was more than I anticipated, and I made a face that made my kids laugh.
This, of course, was the point.
What I didn’t expect was the reaction I got from Melissa. She looked at me, smiled, and said, “You look just like your mother!”
I was confused, because I’ve never seen Mom with a clothespin on her earlobe. She had to explain that it wasn’t the clothespin, but the face I made.
“Your mom makes that face all the time. You look just like her!”
Like it or not, we all possess many of the qualities of our parents. Some of them are genetic, and some are learned behaviors. This morning, I read a leadership blog by Michael Hyatt that talked about The Law of Replication. Simply put, the law of replication is simply the old adage that like begets like. Oak trees produce oak trees. Hound dogs produce hound dogs. Flowers produce flowers.
And leaders produce followers that adapt your behaviors and habits. For anyone leading an organization, this is a vital truth to be aware of. For parents raising children, it is the key to raising the kind of kids that demonstrate the kind of values and behaviors that we desire.
To put it bluntly, anxious parents often have anxious kids, just as anxious leaders create a culture of fear and anxiety. Patient parents often produce children that have the ability to not only wait their turn, but also that feel heard and understood. Patient leaders, likewise, create a culture that values empathy and understanding.
In the 13th chapter of the Gospel of John, we read about the incredible scene that played out at the Last Supper, when Jesus surprised his disciples by washing their feet. When he had finished, Jesus told them about the events that would unfold later that evening and into the next day. And then, in verse 34, we see the power of the Law of Replication at work when he says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
In short, if you hang around Jesus long enough, you start to love like Jesus.
As we prepare to enter into the season of Lent, I am reminded that this is not only a great time to get rid of bad habits, but to pick up new ones as well. During the upcoming 40 days that begin next Wednesday, what would it look like if we put the Law of Replication to work in an intentional way? What would it look like if we didn’t just talk to our families about the values we uphold, but were intentional about demonstrating them as well. This is a great season to begin new traditions: praying together, reading scripture together, worshiping together, serving together. All of these are powerful ways of demonstrating to those we love that our faith matters to us. And if it matters to us, it will matter to them.