Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
We all have heard the sayings; “show, don’t tell,” “Children catch more than they hear,” “a good example is worth more than a thousand words,” and “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Never was this driven home more thoroughly than by my four year old grandson while visiting my parents’ farm. After playing outside with him we were ready for a cold glass of water. I got each of us a glass and we walked out onto the porch where the rest of the family was visiting. I sat down on the steps and my grandson sat down beside me. To see just how much he would catch, I leaned back, took a good long drink of water and then let out a sigh of refreshment. Seeing this, my grandson leaned back, took a long drink of water and gave a sigh of refreshment as well. The whole family watched with amusement as they saw the affects of modeling lived out right in front of them.
As parents, our children and grandchildren are watching us to see how we respond to crisis, how we live out our faith, and how we treat those around us. I was first amused by my grandson’s desire to be like his grandpa, and then it dawned on me the massive importance of the job God has given us. We not only train up a child through verbal instruction, but in day to day character building contact. During the formative years of childhood what are the important things a parent should want to teach? I think church attendance, tithing, the ten commandments, (or the two Jesus condensed them to) and living a spirit filled-joy filled life rank right up there at the top. The responsibility speaks volumes about the command – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we want our children and grandchildren to live a joy filled, productive life as an adult, they have to see us live that same life in front of them. No one is perfect, we will all lose it from time to time, but kids will see and learn how to handle those stress filled moments by our actions though those tough times. Then, even though we may have done the best we could, things may go crazy when they hit the teen years. Then it is best to remember Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constantly in prayer. Amen.