Today's title might make you think this is the sex talk! Well, it's not :) That's a scary one, for sure. But today's post is actually even scarier.
If you've been around me (or this blog) much at all, you've probably heard me say that the scariest verse in all of the Bible is Luke 6:40. It's not about the hell we deserve (although that is plenty scary) nor the depravity of all of us (that is quite scary). Nope, it's even scarier than that. At least to me.
Luke 6:40 says "A student is not above his teacher, but a student, when fully trained, will be like his teacher."
That scares me.
Not just as a homeschool teacher (which means their college readiness rests on my inept shoulders - yikes!). But mostly as a parent.
Parents are the primary teachers for their children. We train them to sleep through the night (I quickly learned that sooner is better than later), to stop depending on diapers, and to exhibit socially acceptable table manners. We teach them how to tie their shoes, how to drive a car, and how to write a thank you note. We model for them how to treat their spouse, all authority, and aging parents. We teach from the moment they are placed in our arms until they place us in the grave.
And, although they definitely learn things from other people (can I get an "AMEN"?) and are surely accountable to God for their own behavior, a boatload of what they learn, they get from home.
Probably none of us would feel bold enough to say with the Apostle Paul "I exhort you, therefore, be imitators of me." I Corinthians 4:16 My hands are sweating, even as I type this. I am not presumptuous enough to think I can say this even to my own children but especially not to any other parent.
Yet, there it is in Scripture. Paul, by the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says just that. Watch me. Follow me. Do what I do.
Whether we are brave enough to invite the imitation or not, the principle is true and it is happening in every home. Kids are imitating parents. For good or for bad. They are imitating us. I'll bet every one of you could share stories that support this truth. Little boys crossing their legs, just like their Daddy, and intently watching ESPN. A tone of voice with a sibling that sounds just like a parent. Little girls kissing their baby doll's booboo, just like Mommy does for her. A word of encouragement to a lonely friend, just like they've observed at home.
So, I write with quite of bit of trepidation. I am far from an expert (are there really any???) and I know I am not done yet. But some cool and very teachable gals that I have gotten to hang out with have asked for some parenting tips. Some advice. Some things I can share that seemed to "work".
I shall try.
As I pondered this, I realized three things that have borne good fruit in the lives of my children. Maybe these will encourage you to find God's lavish grace in the same way.
Parenting from the waist down. Not so much what I know or what I say - the things from my head - but what happens further down. My seat, my knees, my feet.
Where I sit.
That I kneel.
And how I walk.
Where I sit. By this, I mean, what gets my time. Where do I "seat" myself? Where I "sit" sends the message of what I consider important. And kids observe that more than they hear what we say. Do children see us spend alot of time watching TV? Or travel ball? Or shopping? Or whatever? Paul and I have been very blessed in that church is very important to us. (I know, I know, going to church doesn't make you a Christian. Not anymore than being in a garage makes you a car. BUT if you ARE a car, you need to go to the car place for a tuneup!) So we spend a lot of our time (and resources and abilities) in things church related. Our schedule prioritizes church. And church people. I do not recall ever sitting the kids down and telling them "we think church is very important so you should go". We just did. Without question. We forfeited ideas that would sacrifice our commitment to church. No big deal - it is simply what is important.
We did, however, sit them down and explain that not all churches are equal! We shared the importance of placing ourselves under Truth, not error, and asking God to help us discern between the two.
And the lesson must've taken. As our older kids have gone off to college, and then begun families of their own, church membership/commitment/service is a priority. We didn't tell them to do it - they just seemed to think it's the normal thing to do. (No pressure, #4....but the other 3 have set quite a standard for you...)
Where I sit. What takes up my time certainly sends a message of importance.
That I kneel. By this I mean, prayer. I don't do it for show (Matthew 6, remember???) but my children know I pray. For them. And about everything. We pray together, we share prayer requests (hooray for family group texts!), and they have often walked down the stairs and seen me in the piano room, praying. I tell them frequently things I am praying about for them.And they respond with personally praying for my needs as well as asking me to pray for the needs of their friends. They know I pray. And that I trust God to answer.
They see it, they expect it, they participate in the fact that I kneel.
How I walk. The way I live my life. Not perfectly, by any stretch of anyone's imagination. My kids see that imperfection up close and personal. (And, by the way, they have complete freedom to call me out on it, too. That's how we roll around here. Maybe not at age 4, but early on, Paul and I allowed our kids to point out our sin. We drew the line at angry disrespect but healthy accountability is encouraged at our house. Sometimes it's uncomfortable - OK painful - for me but it's important to my own walk that someone keeps my blind spots in check. And, the added bonus, hopefully, is a modeling of everyone's need for the same). But how I walk is a powerful tool in discipling my children. Do they see me respect authority? (Not excluding their father and police officers writing speeding tickets...) Do they observe kindness towards those who cannot repay me? And compassion for those who hurt? Do they hear grace towards others expressed or a critical spirit more often? Do they witness an attitude of forbearance (patience when I am wronged) or instead do they see anger and pride? And in those times when what they is what I do not want them to imitate, do they see an example of personal accountability and repentance?
How I walk. These kids of ours, yours and mine, they learn an awful lot about how to live by watching how we walk.