I remember having a teenager in the house. It was the worst of times, and it was the best of times.
Frustrations would routinely run high from all sides with accusations of “mom, you just don’t understand” to responses like “because I said so!”
Looking back on those days, I can see a lot of mistakes that I made. Particularly, not always leading by example. How could I expect my child to become a great woman- to be better, wise, patient, loving, kind and quick to forgive when my favorite response was- "Do it because I said so."
“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.” ~John Lock
Words matter, but it is our actions that influence the most. Action stems directly from the heart.
Our children are our greatest gifts, and as parents, our first responsibility should be to raise them to become people who have a heart for God and others.
Looking back, I now realize that the best way to accomplish this goal is to lead by example!
It is what your children see over the years that mold and shape them far more than your words.
That old saying, "monkey see, monkey do" is accurate; impressionable children will imitate actions (good or bad) simply by watching their parents.
I remember my grandfather had a figurine on his desk of three monkeys- hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil. As I child, I thought it was amusing, but I didn't understand the symbolism. Now I wonder, was this a daily reminder to be careful what you model?
Little monkeys are watching.
In John 5:19-20, we see this modeling principal highlighted:
"Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.""
So, I ask you….
Do you want your children to be patient and kind?
How do you demonstrate patience and kindness on a daily basis?
Do you want your children to be quick to forgive and not harbor pain, resentment, and bitterness?
Have they ever seen you be accountable for your actions and mistakes? Have they witnessed you asking another person for forgiveness? Even someone that may have wronged you as well?
Do you want your children to be honest and filled with integrity?
What are you modeling? Do you cheat on your taxes and brag about it? Do you keep too much change from a transaction and delight in the deceit? Do you make excuses for the “little white lies?”
Do you want your children to be slow to anger and deal with controversy with wisdom and grace?
How well do you control your temper? Do you respond to others by lashing out or with humility?
Do you want your children to have a close relationship with God?
How often do they see you reading the Bible? Hear you pray out loud? See you make it a priority to go to church or Bible study when you don't feel like it? Hear you talk about spiritual things?
Do you want your children to have a generous heart?
Do your kids see you giving to the church? Giving to the poor? Serving others? Putting others first before yourself?
Friends, the worst thing you could do for your children is to say one thing and model another. It can carry a lifetime of repercussions, bad habits, hindrances, and struggles.
Remember. Monkey see. Monkey do.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may SEE your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:14-16
The good news is… no matter what your children may be struggling with and no matter their age (toddlers to adults); it is NEVER too late to start leading by example- modeling the right way and being the first to demonstrate light in a dark world.
Father, all good things come from you. Thank you for the gift of children and the gift of wisdom. May you help us to model your ways and to seek forgiveness and new direction when we make mistakes. Help us to raise our children to have hearts for you and when we see them struggling (no matter what age) give us insight and guidance on how we can shed truth and light into their lives.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” ~Proverbs 22:6