Dear child, I want your full attention;
please do what I show you.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 23:26). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
For much of my life, I caught more than I was taught! I mopped up what those around me were dropping. Of course, there is also those that use another line, “don’t do as I do, do as I say”. The problem with that is that actions speak louder than words. Here, the scripture gives us a parenting 101 class. In telling his son to give him his full attention, he then asks the child to do what I show you.
In terms of life, I pray that our lives are worthy of our children watching. My friends, they really are mopping up everything that you are dropping. They may not be hanging onto every word you say, but they are certainly watching every action that you make. For us to be role models to our children, let us lead lives worthy of being followed. Whether you like it or not, someone is following your example.
I have learned over the years with my children, I need to tell them what to do, show them what to do, and then watch them do it. There are some assurances in that process. First, I am practicing on communicating with them, so they understand the expectation. It is very difficult to hold someone accountable to an expectation that was never given nor explained. How do they know if they are succeeding or failing to meet an unspoken standard or expectation? We often assume that someone knows what we are talking about. I hear people say all the time that you should over communicate. I have come to understand that over-communication doesn’t exist. There is simply communication and non-communication. If you properly communicate, they’ll understand the expectation.
Secondly, show them how to do it. Many times, in verbally communicating something that you’ve done a hundred times, you forget a simple step. While that step may be so simple to you, that you even forget to mention it, it is vitally important to the process. So, going beyond the verbal, you show the person exactly how it is done. Some people are verbal learners; others are visual learners. You have covered both bases. There is also a leadership lesson wrapped up in this, because not only are you asking them to do something, but now you are showing them how to do it and it proves that you are not asking them to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. Showing them how to do it reinforces everything that was just verbally communicated.
Lastly, watch them do it. This is a great time to not only coach them up, but it is also a time to jump right back in and correct any behaviors, actions or habits that could form early on. So often, we tell them what to do, and then we go on to something else. But remember, they might need your assistance again during the process. Simply go back to point number one. Start over again. Tell them how to do it, show them how to do it, and then watch them do it.
I have discovered in that little process, that often what I said to do, doesn’t always line up with what I do. Then there are times when I am watching them do something, I will correct them. My children then say, “Well, that’s how you do it”. I quickly realize, they are watching, and I am glad they are.
In terms of my spiritual life, I desperately desire for my kids to follow after their parents when it comes to their walk with the Lord. I have worked hard over the years at not being melancholy about my kid’s spiritual walk. The main way that I do that is to be passionate about MY walk with the Lord. Sure, I pastor a church. You would think that it would be easy to be passionate about the Lord, church, worship, praise and prayer. However, I believe in this arena, I have an extremely tough assignment. My assignment is to ensure that Jesus, church, worship, praise and prayer, do not become common. My kids attend nearly every service that happens at our church, even the multiple services on Sunday. My oldest daughter usually serves in an area of the church for the first two services and then worships with Melissa and I at the third service. At this point in the day, I have already preached twice, worshipped twice and held numerous meetings. I could take the time off at the third service, hang out in the foyer, relax a little. However, she’s watching me. I want her to learn how to worship from me. So, I go out every service, and yes I worship for myself, but I also go to show my daughter how to worship a King!
In the end, my job is to train up a child by telling them how to live, showing them how to live and then I get to watch them live out a life that is worthy to be followed!