The Power of Example

5 Jun

Author Bill Dodds writes humorous books on parenting. One of my (Dawn’s) favorite quotes by him is this one:Eating from Mom's Plate

“The best way to prevent your children from eating fatty, greasy, disgusting, unhealthy food is:

Don’t let them eat from your plate!” *

In other words, be a good example.

A friend of mine used to speak to youth groups. I traveled with him for a while before I was married.  One time, he told the teens at a church to listen very carefully to his instructions. He said, “Are you listening? Are you listening? Do exactly what I say. I want you to put your right hand on your right ear. Ready? Go!”

Only my friend didn’t put his hand on his ear. He put it on his chin. And almost all the teens touched their chins, not their ears. They’d heard his words, but they also saw his action.

The power of example.

I remember thinking  that, no matter what I would tell my children someday, they would be more swayed by my behavior ~ what they saw me doing in the everyday routines of my life.

Fast forward a few years to when I had children. I wish that I could say that I modeled godliness and good choices for them all the time. To be honest, many times in my spiritual immaturity, I left it to the church and Christian youth activities to “teach” them how to live for God in practical ways.  I was far too casual in my commitment to God as a Christ-follower. My light for God didn’t shine brightly at home (Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 5:8).

All of my talk was pretty empty without the power of a godly example. Now, don’t get me wrong; I did many things right. But I really messed up in some key areas. I thank God that His grace worked in my children’s lives in spite of me in those early years. And I’m thankful for godly men who taught my sons to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1-2), following His example.

I’ve watched Pam with her sons, too. Although I think she’d also admit some areas that could have been stronger ~ every parent has at least a few ~ she and her husband made some powerful decisions together that impacted their children’s walk with God.

I like what Pam says in her book Got Teens, in the section, “They Are Watching You.”

“To raise a child who hungers for God,” Pam says, “you must model a desire to know and please God. If you treat your relationship with God casually, that’s the attitude your children will pick up, too. Do they see and hear you pray? Read your Bible? Sing worship songs outside of church? Share your faith with a friend? Serve your community? Do they see you go out of your way to grow with God? I want my kids to see a mom always growing in her faith in God.” **

Mom and Daughter PrayingWe can’t go back. I can’t relive those early years of my sons’ lives. But today, I thank God that I have three granddaughters, and I work hard to live out my faith in front of them ~ to pass on a godly heritage.

There are so many wonderful books on the market that help parents do just that. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family wrote two great books: Bringing Up Girls and Bringing Up Boys. Pam and her husband Bill wrote a good one, too ~ available at love-wise.com ~ titled The 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make.

How about you? What is your example before family, friends, co-workers, and others in your circle of influence? Can you say, with the Apostle Paul:

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”? (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Paul not only taught people the truth of scripture, he urged God’s people to follow him as he modeled Christian living (1 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6).

Like Paul, let’s model the walk of a Christ-follower, and the biblical character values that build lives:  love of God, the priority of the family, hard work, truth-telling, kindness, integrity, self-discipline, endurance, courage. There’s incredible power in our example to change and motivate the minds and hearts of those we love.

* Dodds is quoted in Familiarity Breeds Children (selected quotes by Bruce Lansky, Meadowbrook Press, 1997), p. 46

** Pam Farrel and Jill Savage, Got Teens? Time Tested Answers for Moms of Teens and Tweens (Harvest House Publishers, 2005), p. 159

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One Response to “The Power of Example”

  1. Lynn Mosher June 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Oh, Dawn, I love this! The example of the chin/ear and the quote are great! I have to save these. Actions really do speak louder than words. Thanks for the great post!

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