CHRISTIAN PARENTS SHOULD LEAD BY EXAMPLE
By. Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield
I was attending a men’s bible study class years ago when I said one of the most insightful things I have probably ever said. We were discussing parenthood when I remarked that parenthood was a big game of monkey see, monkey do. There erupted quite a conversation among the fathers in the group about how their grown children did things just as they did, even though they were not consciously taught to do them that way. They were able to quickly cite from their own experience specific incidents of what I had just said. Their kids, now grown learned from years of observing their example !
Example is critical part of any parent’s leadership. Let’s look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about leading by example, “ …but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” ( 1 Timothy 4:12) Our children spend a great deal of time with us over the years. The majority of our life, and who we really are is constantly on display to them. If we’re always reminding them to say their blessing at meal time, but our bible is getting dusty on the shelf what are we really saying ? The old saying that actions speak louder than words could never be truer than when it comes to parenting.
Of course we must bear in mind that nobody is perfect, so no parent is perfect. All of us, me included should constantly be working to become better husbands, wives, parents etc. The point is we owe it to our children ( and theirs) to be aware of what our actions are teaching our kids. People in a sense are like computers. There is an old saying in computers “garbage in, garbage out.” Parents provide the vast majority of the “input” children receive, especially during the formative years. Do you ever consider what kind of input your children are getting from you ?
Single parent families are increasingly common. What about single parents and leading by example.
Angela Redd a single mother writing for Focus On The Family-Canada has this to say, “ While I cannot be both mother and father I can teach my teen daughters about Jesus, and be the example of a godly woman. I’ll never be the perfect parent, but I can lead our family in becoming more Christ like.”
Nobody is expecting anybody to be perfect. However actions have consequences. As parents those consequences extend beyond us to our children in ways it will take years, perhaps an entire generation to uncover. Neither am I saying you won’t have weak moments, we all do. Why not use these to teach your kids how to overcome obstacles in a Christian way ? They will after all face challenges in their own adulthood, shouldn’t we prepare them for that ?
Example is a powerful teaching tool ! As parents we are always teaching through our example even when we don’t realize it. Are our actions matching our words ? Do we want our kids as adults to act and react as we do ? Or are we undermining our creditability as parents without meaning to ? Our children are watching !