“Matty Lovo is a Hero,” the headline read.
I googled it. And it’s a true story. It happened 12 years ago when Matty was just 9 years old and saved his father’s life.
Matty’s dad, Matty Lovo, Sr, a semi-tractor-trailer driver, was hauling lumber through St. Helens, Oregon, when he had a seizure and lost consciousness. The semi veered into oncoming traffic. Stuck a utility pole. And seemed destined for a tragic accident.
Matty, Jr, however, was riding with his dad that day. And his quick thinking saved both their lives. Matty called his dad’s name. When he failed to answer, the boy then smacked him in the face to wake him up. Still no response.
So, the nine-year-old boy climbed into the driver’s seat and steered the big rig back into its lane. Then he got on the C.B. radio to ask for help. Another driver heard him and told Matty to turn off the ignition key.
As the semi was slowing down, Chris Howard happened to pass by in the opposite direction. When he saw a child was steering a slow-moving rig, he stopped his car. Jumped out. Ran down the truck. Climbed up into the cab. And put on the brakes to bring the rig to a complete stop.
Later when the two appeared on a TV show, the interviewer asked Matty Jr how and why he responded as he did. The boy replied, “I thought, I should just do what my Dad does.”
Parents ought to think very seriously about this story. Children are like sponges. They watch. Listen. Learn. And absorb. They mimic their moms and dads.
They learn to treat others the way their parents teach others. They see how dad reacts to crisis situations and take their cues from him. They watch how mom dresses and learn about modesty or the lack thereof. They observe how mom and dad talk and treat each other and develop their ideas about marriage and husband-wife relationships from their interactions.
We are reminded that while the Word is powerful, example often provides a greater influence. Peter put it this way. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Pet 2:21).
Jesus set the example in obedience to his parents when he was 12 years old (Lk. 2:52). For 18 years he labored in the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth, leaving us an example of work. When he began his ministry at age 30, He was baptized by John, “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15).
Jesus’ life was one of purity. Honesty. Sincerity. Humility. Sacrifice. Submission. And bonded by love. He modeled the two great commandments to love God and love your neighbor (Matt 22:37-40).
He treated sinners with respect. Exercised patience with the apostles. Handled critics with wisdom. Displayed courage when threatened. Demonstrated restraint when tempted. And revealed the character of the Father.
Preachers, pastors and parents are called to “follow in His steps.” We are to be a Christ-like example to our children. Our friends. Our brethren. To a world lost in sin. In the Mountain message, Jesus uses the metaphors of “salt” and “light.” We are to be a preserving and illuminating influence in the world.
Paul exhorted Timothy to “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Good advice, not just for young preachers, but all people!
Young Matty Lovo saved the day by thinking, “What would dad do?” Likewise, we will avert many problems in our lives when we ask, “What would Jesus do?” Our attitudes will improve. Our actions will be spiritual. And our example will be better, clearer and purer when we follow Jesus.
D. L. Moody was right, “A good example is far better than a good precept.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman