Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing.
This message has been cropping up everywhere in my life lately.
Instagram. My Bible study. Conversations with friends…
I think God might be telling me something :)
Like most parents, I often worry about whether I’m doing things the right way.
I know I know…there is not one right way. As much as I wish there was! LOL
But seriously. I love my girls so very much and I want to do my part in raising them to love God, be kind to others and have an impact on the world.
As such, I’m always open to wisdom about parenting.
When I see experienced mothers who have joyful, kind, and well-behaved children it takes everything in me not to corner them and pick their brains for hours on end.
But lately God has been showing me that no matter how well I parent my children, He is writing a story in their lives and it’s probably going to include some pretty sad chapters.
Life is not always easy and God tends to do His most profound work in the difficult circumstances, so I know that my children will have to walk some of those dark roads.
But I also know that God loves them more than I ever could (a concept that amazes me!) and that He is already doing a work in their little lives. He will turn any poor choices that they make into a beautiful story of growth and redemption.
Honestly, figuring this out was a huge relief.
It’s not within my power to create pain-free lives for my children.
It is within my power to live my own life in a way that honors God.
‘Do as I say, not as I do” is a recipe for failure.
They are going to do as I do.
What do I want them to do?
I want them to love God. I want them to understand their humanity and frailty. I want them to love others and open their hearts to the people they encounter. I want them to know that they are precious and loved children of the Most High God and find their value in that rather than their appearance, achievements or failures.
You know how I can do that?
I can love God.
I can understand my humanity and frailty.
I can love others and open my heart to the people I encounter.
I can know that I am a precious and loved child of the Most High God.
I can find my value in my identity in Christ rather than my appearance, achievements or failures.
That’s a tall order.
But I really believe it’s the best way for them to learn it.
God himself modeled everything for us. He didn’t tell us to do it. He DID it.
Live in community, not isolation?
CHECK! He’s a triune God living in community with Himself rather than being one God.
Rest each week?
CHECK! He rested on the 7th day and He’s GOD. How much more do we need to rest?
These are just two small examples of God being the example for us. Both of them recently struck me in a new way and totally impacted the way I understand the value of teaching by example.
On a very practical level I decided to test out this concept.
Grace had started becoming very demanding. When she wanted something she would just bark out orders.
“FIND MY GLASS SLIPPERS!”
It was driving me berserk and as much as I kept telling her to ask nicely and use her manners, we just weren’t making any progress.
Enter this concept of teaching by example…
I realized that I often barked orders at her. I didn’t yell at her but I was very direct.
“Sit in your seat.”
“Eat your food.”
I wasn’t usually asking nicely or using my manners.
So the experiment went like this…I stopped telling her to be polite and I just started being polite to her.
“Please sit in your seat for lunch.”
“Please come here.”
“Please eat your food.”
“Thank you for picking up your toys.”
“Thank you for throwing that in the trash.”
And do you know what happened?
By golly the girl became so stinking polite it blew my mind! She was saying please and thank you for everything and I didn’t once tell her to!
This example thing is very powerful.
It’s scary, but also such a great accountability to live with tiny little mirrors that reflect back to us our own behavior.
On my own, I can never be the woman I want to model for them, but with God’s help I can grow and change daily into the woman he designed me to be and that is such a beautiful hope!