"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb." - Luke 2: 7-21
Other than just waking up, which is a big accomplishment every day, we are given a gift to influence others daily with what we say or do.
That is a big responsibility.
Big brothers and sisters influence their younger siblings all the time, whether they know it or not.
Just because you are a leader doesn't mean you are a good leader, influencing others to do good things.
What we do is supposed to be bathed in love.
And, quite frankly, sometimes that is really hard.
But, it must be done.
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" - Matthew 5:44
We are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
There is no standing on the sidelines when it comes to life.
Failure is not a bad word and neither is adversity.
We must be persistent in what we believe.
We must be persistent in teaching our children that everything they do effects others.
We must be diligent in teaching our children the way of the wise men.
They didn't just turn the corner and find baby Jesus in the manger.
It took them years to find him.
Our kids must understand that hard work is not easy.
For every A that has come rather easily, the next A means loads and loads of work.
Hard work is the fiber of who we become.
Do you want your child to: 1) be the last to make the team; 2) be the last to be cut; 3) never try out?
I'll take No. 1.
If it's No. 2, then someone has to work harder the next year to make the team.
And, that's OK.
Then we, as parents, must be willing to do whatever it takes to help that child.
If they choose not to take the easy way out, neither should we.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:3-11
If we are to influence, we should be a blessing.
There are 905 verses in the King James Version of the Bible that relate to love or blessing.
"Open rebuke is better than secret love." - Proverbs 27:5
"We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." - 1John 4:19-21
Life is not easy for our children and there are times, for various reasons, we don't help them as parents.
We are commanded to help.
We are commanded to love.
We are commanded to be leaders in our communities.
We are also commanded to be humble.
Too many athletes have no idea what that is and we all see it on a weekly basis.
Please give me David Robinson, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Peyton Manning, Rod Laver, Kurt Warner, Lolo Jones, Sanya Richards-Ross, Alyson Felix, Annika Sorenstam, Walter Peyton, Wayne Gretzky, A.C. Green, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan or Steve Nash.
I know I left out many, but that is just a sampling.
Bless someone today ... and tomorrow ... and the next day
Then, let them do the blessing.
Also, like the shepherds, let's do things "with haste" so we don't miss any blessings.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)