Throughout the Bible, parents are continually commanded to raise up their children in the ways of the Lord. While Kids Ministry is a vital part of a healthy church, it is not ultimately the church’s job to train our children. As parents, we cannot outsource this responsibility to anyone else.
If we are going to fulfill God’s call to raise up our children, we will need to be intentional in this effort. It will not happen overnight and it will not happen by accident. One of the keys to training our children is consistent instruction. But this instruction must be accompanied by, and solidified by, the example of our lives.
One of the crucial components of genuine leadership is to lead by example. The apostle Paul, when instructing and leading the church, often appealed to his example:
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
“…but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:9)
He told Timothy to be an example to other believers in both speech and action (see 1 Timothy 4:12). Peter also emphasized the importance of example, telling the elders of the church to be examples to the flock (see 1 Peter 5:3).
The point of the above passages is clear: to actually lead requires not only words, but example. This applies to parenting as much as to any other type of leadership. Parents, if you are not leading your kids by example, you are not truly leading them at all. Telling your kids what to do is not the same as leading and training them. A “do as I say, not as I do” mentality is not only lazy parenting, it is ineffective!
While obedience to what we say should be expected, kids will naturally imitate us. You will lose credibility and influence with your children if you do not model what you teach or if you consistently expect them to live up to things that you yourself do not do.
Parents, we must take seriously the power of our example to our kids!
If we do not prioritize our relationship with God, why would our children?
If we do not pray and read the Bible, how can we expect our kids to?
If we are not involved in the local church, how will our children be?
If we do not embrace a biblical worldview, how can we instill this in our kids?
If we do not actively live out our faith, how can we expect our kids to?
If we do not love and serve others, how will our kids learn to do these things?
If we are easily angered and offended, why would our children not be more prone to temper tantrums?
If we use harsh and abusive language, why should we expect our kids to speak respectfully?
If we do not have respect for authority, why would our kids show honor to authority figures?
Whether we realize it or not, our children are following our example. For good or bad, they do as they see. The older they become, the more their faith must become their own. But we are the ones who set the tone and direction for their spiritual development, by both our instruction and our example. Praying children come from praying parents. Kids who love God follow parents who love God. Little worshipers arise in the homes of “big” worshipers.
If we are to lead our children, we must set the example and model the things that we want to instill in them. We will certainly not do this perfectly (which gives us the opportunity to model humility and repentance!). But we must walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
Our kids look up to us. Our kids imitate us. Our kids are following our example!
Questions for Reflection:
A powerful poem about a parent’s example:
Several years ago, I came across a poem called the little chap who follows me. Check it out and be encouraged to lead your kids well!