The Eight P’s of Parenting (Part 3)
In these bulletins, we’re studying eight ways parents can help work toward the salvation of their kids. We started with Provide for Them and Pray for Them and Pass on to Them the Faith. This week:
Prove to Be a Good Example
Paul identifies hypocrisy as a big problem, which can cause the community to reject the church’s message. “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?” (Romans 2:21-22).
While a Christian’s hypocrisy can cause the Gentiles to blaspheme, a parent’s hypocrisy can cause his kids to scoff at his authority or rebel against God. The most conscientious, regular at-home Bible study may be derailed by a failure to live out what we preach. Hypocrisy in parenting is especially troublesome, for while I may be able to hide my bad behavior from my coworkers and brethren, there’s no hiding it from my spouse and kids!
While kids often do not do what we say, they almost always do what we do. Austin L. Sorensen once said, “A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father.” In an old book entitled What Your Kids Are Up to and In For, (p. 75) Bill Sanders cites a study in which teens were asked “do your parents say one thing and do another?” Fifty percent said yes! This group corresponded heavily with which teens later got in trouble. The study identified the top three areas in which teens viewed their parents as hypocritical – entertainment choices, alcohol, and smoking. What a shame to be forced to say, “all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger” (Matthew 23:3-4).
But now, if a hypocritical example is damaging, a good example is a wonderful way to drive home true teaching! Faith in action is powerful. Eunice and Lois taught by example. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” Timothy’s faith came from the modeling of his mother and grandmother. It wasn’t just on their lips, it dwelt in their lives.
Jesus taught by example. “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps...” (1 Peter 2:21). “Example” here is the word hypogrammos; it literally refers to the “underwriting” that teachers use to exemplify perfectly formed letters of the alphabet, having their students trace on top of the letters again and again until they can make their own letters.
Paul taught by example. He said, “you yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working
hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus”
(Acts 20:30-35). See also Titus 2:7, 1 Peter 5:3, Philippians 3:7, Hebrews 13:7.
Here are some areas children would especially benefit from the modeling of their parents.
The importance of attendance at worship (Heb. 10:24). If you make many exceptions, your children will make more.
Behavior in worship services (Eph. 5:18-19). Also, realize that children are forming attitudes about song-leaders, elders, preachers, based on the comments of parents on the ride home. We want them to avoid the trap of nitpicky grumbling. We want them to be producers not mere critics and consumers; not part of the problem but rather part of the solution.
Helping the needy, volunteering for serving the brethren, taking meals to shut- ins. If we want this work to be important to the next generation, we will get involved.
Pure speech, avoidance of profanity (Eph. 4:4), movie and song choices. When a child hears something slip accidentally, he will draw the conclusion that there are some times when this is OK. If he hears it routinely, he will sense a disconnect between dad’s public and real personas.
How to treat one’s spouse! Remember the old saying, “if you want to know how a young man will treat his wife, just watch the way his father treats his mother.”
Smoking, drinking, food, medicine.
Money management, spending and saving, care with debt.
Maintaining the house and car; working a job (Eccl. 10:18, Prov. 6:6-11).
Perhaps most important of all, how to apologize for and recover from sin. For
we are all going to make mistakes in front of our kids in the above areas; then we have an opportunity to teach about that part of a faithful life, too!
Ultimately, let us all strive to model Christ to our kids. 1 Corinthians 11:1 says, “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” Prove to be a good example to them!