Do as I SAY, not as I DO!

We live in a split level home. That just means that when you come in the front door, you have to choose whether you will take the staircase to the right and go down, or the one to the left and go up. If you choose to go down, you will enter the Children's Area where all of the toys and books live and the children's bedrooms and bathroom.

In other words, the mess.

If you go upstairs, you will find the Grown Up Living room, Dining room and kitchen, the master bedroom and bath, and babies bedroom. This area is usually (more or less) clean.

My  husband likes it that way.

I like it that way!

On occasion I will discover a toy that has sneaked its way into the grown-up area. If it is light weight, bouncy, or small, I will walk to the top of the staircase, reach around the banister and drop said toy into it's designated area because I am too lazy busy to walk it down the stairs and put it away properly.

This has not been a problem until recently.

I handed a toy to a two year old and told him to bring it downstairs. A second later I heard a terrible crashing as it bounced and clattered onto each step, scratching the paint on the walls on its way.

It seems that I have set the example for how to put the toy downstairs!

This scenario has repeated itself a few times since that day, so I have had to make a conscious effort to stop my toy-dropping since the toddlers have no concept of which toys are "droppable" and which ones are not!

And another thing:

I did not realize how often I say "Just a minute" when my kids want something while I am right in the middle of doing something else. It was never a problem as long as I tended to them as soon as I finished - until now. I've been noticing that my two-year-old almost always says "a minute" when I tell him to do something or to come. It seems that I have taught him by example to have a delayed response.

Several times in my life I have heard people say, "I will have to stop swearing when my baby gets old enough to understand because I don't what them learning those words."

If it's not good for them, it is not good for you! - - And this applies to all kinds of "corrupt communication" (Eph. 4:29)

"Children seldom misquote you. They more often repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said." Mae Maloo
The whole idea of being a good example is so hard! If it weren't for that pesky old sin-nature it would be easy. Instead, we constantly struggle to do what is right, to make our children tow that line, and to confess and repent when we don't do what is right ourselves.

I started thinking about this more recently because some of our children have developed a love affair with food and (ahem) it is starting to show. We have had to begin teaching them about moderation - stopping before it becomes sin. This is so hard for me because I, too, love food! Now I have to be careful! How can I say, "No seconds" while I am scooping extra portions onto my plate?

 Sometimes we get it right. My tiny boy says "You're welcome" when it is appropriate to say "thank-you" since saying "thank you" elicits that response! He figured out this politeness all on his own and is following our example and saying what we say.

This week, the we have been memorizing this verse:

"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV

Timothy was a very young man who loved God so much that he wanted to be in full time ministry right from the start, and he apprenticed himself to the Apostle Paul.

I attempted to explain the verse to my children. I told them that sometimes people say things like: "all children are irresponsible," "all teenagers rebel," or "kids will be kids" to excuse sins typical to immaturity. It starts to become an assumption that all children/teens WILL rebel (or they are odd), will be irresponsible (or they are exceptional)... etc.

To be an example means to be "one worthy of imitation." (Webster's Dictionary) That means that we have to be BETTER at something - because you can only show someone how to do something that you already know how to do well.

I thought it noteworthy that  it says " the believers..." 

"Wow! That means that we aren't just supposed to be better than the worst people we know, like unbelievers or something, but be an example to the BEST people we know! Other Christians. We should be better than the best in our words (obviously), our conduct (our actions - the things we do), our love (as described in 1 Corinthians 13 - the self-sacrificing kind), our spirit (our ability to persevere with joy through difficult times), our faith (unwavering trust in the Holy God), and our purity.

I reminded them that to be pure means to stay as far away from sin as possible. Not to get as close as possible without actually sinning.

A man needed to hire an new limo driver, but his route included a treacherous stretch through a canyon in which the road pressed up against a cliff wall on one side, and had a sharp drop off on the other. Three people applied for the job and he took them to that stretch of road for part of their interview. "How close do you think you can drive by the edge of the cliff?" he asked. "Well," the first driver replied. "I have been a professional driver for years. I think that I could get within a foot of the cliff."
The same question was asked of the second driver. "I grew up in this area and have driven through this canyon all of my life." was his answer. "I know that I could get within six inches and keep you safe."
Finally it was time for the third interview. Again, the same question. The third driver looked over the edge and watched for a few moments as a pebble dislodged by his shoe fell to the canyon floor. He stepped back and looked at the man incredulously. "I don't know why you would want to get close to that edge!" he replied. "I would rather stay as close to the center line as possible!"
"You're hired!" the Man exclaimed.

Setting a good example may be hard...

     It requires Grace. Lots and lots of Grace.

     It requires that we be more intentional in every aspect of our lives.

     It requires looking to the One Who set us the perfect example -
     our Loving Heavenly Father!

...but it is not impossible!

photo credit


Erika @ Slowly Natural said...

Ouch! Thanks for stepping on my toes! Great post with great wisdom. Thank you for sharing!

peggy said...

No kidding! I think that the most frequent reason I see the need to change myself has been when I've seen my kids acting like me.. thank you for your post.

Jen Ferguson said...

Oh yes, I have been there. And I've noticed that a lot of the behaviors I don't like in my kids are the ones that I really don't like in me. Such a great post.

Sarah said...

I'm not a mom, but I'm convicted nonetheless. Thanks for this call to action that is positive!

Kim said...

Being a parent and setting a good example...
It starts sooner than you realize, and continues your whole life.

When you think about it, it is a wonderful,albeit large, responsibility to be helping to shape your child's character!

Thanks for your post. It a terrific reminder of being a parent who can say "Yes, do as I say and do."

Confessions of a Martha said...

Yes! Peggy and Jen, seeing the things in my children that I am asking God for Grace in my own life is exactly what prompted this post! At times I have wondered how it is that our children turn out well at all considering that the process God uses to mature US is the process of raising children. Sometimes I think that they would be better off if we "grew up" into maturity first, and THEN raised children!

marlene said...

Great thoughts :) Thanks for sharing.

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