As a parent, the daily example of our attitudes and actions speak volumes to the shaping of our children’s character. Our kids learn so much of who our Heavenly Father is by the relationship WE have with our Lord. I am sure you have heard of the popular saying, “more is caught, than taught”. I often think of how Jesus taught his disciples as he just spent time hanging out with them, walking with them, sitting in a boat with them and finally, showing them His ultimate love and sacrifice as He went to the Cross. He is the Great Teacher. In the book of Matthew, chapter 10, Jesus is giving his disciples authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and instructions on how to go out to preach the Gospel. He gives his boys a list of do’s and don’ts and then He says in verse 24, “A student is not greater than the teacher.” Of course the disciples are the students in this verse and Jesus is the teacher. Jesus goes on to say in the chapter that it is because of the teacher that the students will become persecuted. In other words, the student is taking on the characteristics of the teacher. The same premise applies to our lives as we are the student and Jesus is our Teacher. Let’s go one more step further, we are the teacher and our children are the students. They will take on our characteristics, sometimes good and sometimes bad!
There are several items in our home with the popular scripture verse, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 This verse has not been something that I have purposefully sat down and taught to my children. They have just seen it displayed in their surroundings ever since they were babies. As they have grown older and have become capable of reading and comprehending this scripture, I am amazed by how they have applied it to their own little lives as they have watched how their father and I live what we believe no matter how difficult life may become. Let me share with you a few recent examples of how my teaching-conduct impacted the lives of my student-children, for both the positive and the negative.
Our family has recently moved from my dream home. When we purchased this home, I envisioned having our children growing up in it and then some day Lord willing, having our future daughter-in-laws and grandchildren in it for family gatherings and holiday celebrations. There were plans for the home to be used for ministry and of course plans to grow old together with my husband in it. That was my plan for our family’s future and the dream was shattered. However, as hard and painful as it was to go through, my vision was, and still is, at times shortsighted, because God had a better plan for our family. As we endured this financial trial for several years, we had a choice in our attitudes and actions, we could complain about our situation or accept that God had something different and better in mind for us. By the way, God is ALWAYS smarter than we are, because He is the Teacher and we are the student!
Anyways, as we signed a lease agreement for our rental home, the Landlord asked us how the kids were handling the loss of the home, and in my mind, I found that to be an odd question. The reason being is the last few years we have been preparing our children that at some point, Jesus will move us to a different home. What we did not do is teach our children to throw a tantrum when things don’t go our way and we did not show our children to doubt God and be consumed with fear and anxiety of what our life would be like. We were teaching the young disciples to have faith in a Great God no matter how things do not go according to our plans.
So, this is what my older son caught in the midst of this trial. He embraced the situation with child-like faith and saw something good. He is so very excited to move to this new home because there are giant trees in the backyard and he has always wanted to build a treehouse! Later that evening he came home and wrote in his finest penmanship, “As for me and my treehose, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 Yes, he spelt hose, instead of house! After seeing what he wrote for the first time, I saw such excitement in his heart for the Lord. Now, of course there was that twinge in my mind for the misspelling of the word ‘house’, but I realized that his heart was right and I just gently taught him the correct spelling of the word. As the Enemy continually attacks me for not teaching my son well enough because he could not spell the word correctly, the Lord gently reminds me of my son’s growing, godly character which will prove far more valuable in life.
Now for the negative example of me as a teacher...after the Lord blessed us with the wonderful gift of this rental home, I decided to act like an ungrateful child who did not appreciate the gift rather than being content and thankful for it. I referred to the house as if it were a “pig with lipstick”, in other words, it was nice in a few places, but overall, it was like a pig! My younger son caught on to this negative attitude and he informed my husband that he did not want to move from our current home because the new one was crummy! I don’t think I will be receiving the ‘Teacher of the Year’ Award for that example! Needless to say, he learned the negative attitude from his teacher.
Your children’s understanding of the Lord is what they see in you and what you teach them. They are always watching, perhaps not very intentionally, but watching none the less. So, you always have a choice in any and all situations that you are in, you could have faith and be thankful for all that God is doing in your life or you could throw a tantrum, whine and complain, be fearful and full of anxiety and teach your children those attitudes just as well.
My hope and prayer for you and your family is that you do the best you can to be a reflection of your Heavenly Father to your children, it is through that growing process that you will become like The Great Teacher and your students will become like Him as well.