"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." - Matthew 5:15
I have the pleasure of talking to teenagers a lot about their demeanor, attitude, testimony, work ethic and being a role model.
Whether teenagers know it or not, they are all role models to someone somewhere.
Teenagers are being watched at all times by someone, whether it is in Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, Subway, the movie theater, the classroom or walking along the street.
Unfortunately, for teenagers, most adults are watching them waiting to see them mess up - act like fools, be ignorant, treat people terribly - so they can go tell someone what they saw.
People like being negative.
People like tearing others down.
People like focusing on the bad.
People want to dim the light of teenagers because, for some reason, it makes them feel better.
People love to see how teenagers interact with others. They will quickly form an opinion and then have no problem telling others that opinion - especially when it's negative.
People are looking to see if that teenager actually holds the door for the next person, never mind the fact they never do it themselves.
How you act on the court, on the mat or once you exit the pool is what people are watching.
They want to see your reaction to a terrible call, a missed two-footer, serving one out by three feet or missing a point-blank shot on the goalie.
Some people holler at you when they see you do something you are not supposed to, but, for some reason, turn the blind eye when their child is far short of exemplary.
Teenagers must understand something quite basic - you are all under the microscope at all times.
People want to see if you say one thing and act in an opposite manner.
Here is what people don't see.
People did not see when Edison football coach Mike McKenzie took his team to Ponderosa last year on a road trip to Tyler Consolidated and, as the team was preparing to leave, the managers came out and complimented McKenzie on how well behaved his team was, that it was a pleasure for them to be in the restaurant and that they could come back any time.
That, right there, has nothing to do with wins and losses - but how many wins do you think that is worth?.
That is all about leadership from your head coach and the seniors on the team.
That is letting your light shine.
We adults need to help kids keep that flame nice and bright.
We adults need to teach, extol and be the positive influence.
Years ago when I was coaching basketball in San Diego, I was talking to a coach after a game and he told me that he spends all his time after a loss telling his players nothing but positive things because he knew the parents would spend all their time telling the kids nothing but negative things.
That, folks, cannot happen.
We adults need to ignite, not extinguish.
We need to help, not hinder.
What are your good works, your efforts to live as you should live, act how you should act and talk as you should talk?
We all witnessed how bad people could be because of all the stories on Black Friday and, basically, how rude people are and can be. We watched how the almighty dollar was and continues to be more important than manners.
Please and thank you, sir and ma'am are exiting our culture far too quickly.
Sports is one place where teenagers can blow their testimony in about two seconds.
It's a place where emotions boil to the surface faster than anyone can imagine.
It's a place where losing your head for a split-second can damage how you have lived for 17 years.
We don't light the candle so only we can see the flame.
We light the candle so anyone who can see the flame - "all that are in the house" - can see the flame.
We light the candle not so it can flicker in the wind, but so it is a constant, bright flame that cannot be missed.
We light the candle so not to give excuses why the flame flickers, but to show how being accountable for our actions can enhance the flame so more people can see it.
Are we the same inside our four walls at home as we are at school, at work, at play, as a coach, as a teacher, as a student, as an athlete, as a referee, as a boss, as an employee, as we stand?
"I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future." - Tim Tebow.
(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)