Are We Setting the Proper Examples?
Examples are an important part of the learning process. There are times when examples augment direct teaching and times when examples are the only source of learning. Parents, we must recognize the important role of examples in our efforts “to bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). While we verbally teach our children the word of God, we must augment the teaching process with godly examples.
When you study the scriptures, you find many instances where examples played a role in the teaching process. For example, consider the following words of Jesus: “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). The example to which Jesus was referring was His washing the apostles’ feet. While Jesus had verbally taught His apostles to be humble, this example reinforced the teaching by showing the teaching in application. Consider also the apostle Paul’s reference to the use of positive examples: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Philippians 3:17). Paul encouraged the Christians in the first century to follow the pattern seen within the life of other faithful Christians.
Today, faithful Christians continue to serve as examples of faithfulness and obedience. Babes in Christ need to look to mature Christians to learn about patience, endurance, faithfulness, humility, fairness, etc. The “fruit of the Spirit,” as described by Paul, can be learned, in part, by seeing it in the lives of other Christians. Paul wrote, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). All of these attributes, while learned from studying God’s word, are also illustrated within the lives of faithful Christians. These examples can help a babe in Christ to better understand the application of these attributes within their own lives.
Parents, the use of proper examples is necessary in the rearing of your children. Your children should see within your life a genuine faithfulness to the Lord. Take a moment and consider the following areas and the type of examples you are setting for your children.
- Love for God: Do your children see in your attitude and behavior a love for God? Truly loving the Lord with your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) will yield a life which manifests this love.
- Worship: Do your children see within you a zeal for worshiping God? Do they see you attending all the assemblies of the local congregation? Do your children see you paying attention and following along? Do your children hear you sing praises to God? Do your children see you praying with the rest of the congregation?
- Bible Study: Do your children see within you an enthusiasm for studying God’s word? Do they see you studying your Bible and doing your Bible lessons?
- Prayer: Do your children see and hear you pray to God? While there will be times when you will pray alone to God, you must not forget to also pray with your children.
- Controlling Your Temper: Do your children see you keep your cool or do they see you become angry when your “buttons are pushed”? Quite often it is at moments of stress, anger, and trouble when our examples will have their greatest impact, whether good or bad, upon our children.
- Controlling Your Language: Do your children hear you control your speech, or do they hear you take the Lord’s name in vain, use foul language, tell dirty jokes, etc?
Just as positive examples are instrumental in bringing up your children, negative examples are likewise detrimental. You can take your children to worship services and Bible classes, but if they do not see you engaged and paying attention, then they are not learning to worship the Lord. If you do not study your Bible, then your children will not learn to study their Bibles. If you do not pray with your children, then they will not learn to pray. If you do not control your anger, then your children will not learn how to control their anger. If you do not control your language, then your children will learn words unbecoming of a child of God. When your children see within your life actions contrary to God’s word, then they will learn and grow according to those negative examples.
Every moment of your child’s life is a moment of learning. Setting the proper examples in all areas of your life is crucial to bringing “up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Give honest consideration to the examples you are setting for your children. If your examples are hurting the spiritual development of your children, then show your children an example of repentance and complete change. Set the right example for your children to follow today.