Modeling Godly Behavior
We hear a lot about teaching our children to have “godly behavior” or to be “Christ-like” in their words and actions. I completely agree that we need to teach our children this behavior, but, I think, it may even be more important to show them this behavior, modeling godly behavior. Children learn by watching. They model what they see. Being kind to the clerk at the food store will teach them to be kind to others. Collecting coats and food for the needy will teach them to love others as God loves us. Calmly discussing with your husband why leaving his dirty socks and shirts on the floor is frustrating to you will teach them to resolve conflict with out yelling or violence.
When my youngest was just a gradeschooler (he is now a grown man of 20!), we were traveling in the car to pick up his brother at soccer practice when a truck cut me off. I slammed on the brakes and heard my son yell “***hole!”. What?? Exasperated and maybe more than a little upset, I asked him where he learned that from. He shared that “Jacob’s” mom (some names may have been changed to protect the innocent), always says it when another driver ‘does something bad”. Ouch. This was a great reminder that not just their father and I were modeling behavior for them and that not all modeled behavior is good!
What your children SEE you do and what they HEAR you say, will instruct them more than any lesson or conversation you could have with them. Of course, talking with your children about how to treat others and how to love others is important, but children model our behavior while they don’t always listen to what we say.
In the verse “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (ESV), God is instructing us to train our children on behavior that is pleasing to Him.
“Train up”is from the Hebrew “chanak”, and means to nitiate, or instruct; Dictionary.com defines “train” as: to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of (a child or other person) by discipline and instruction and when it comes to training, actions speak louder than words.
Even though all of our children are now grown, it is still important to model good behavior for them. When my daughter sees that I greet my husband at the door with a smile and a kiss and have his favorite sweet tea ready while dinner is finishing up, she sees how a wife should honor her husband. When my husband and I did not spend the night with each other while we were dating or engaged, it showed our kids that sex is sacred and a gift from God for a husband and wife. When my husband holds doors open for me or compliments me on my hair or the meal, he is modeling treating others with kindness and how a man should treat his wife.
Now, it is important to recognize that, of course, children misbehave. That is how they test their worlds (and their parents). If, however, your children are behaving in a way that you don’t believe is God-honoring, before disciplining them, take a few moments to consider where they learned that behavior. Have you acted out in anger, recently? Did they over hear you using profanity – even in the form of a joke? Considering where and whom your child modeled that behavior from should help you in ascertaining what type, if any, of discipline is warranted. Perhaps your behavior needs correcting, too.
We are not perfect, mom. None of us are. We all fall short and we all, at times, behave in ways that displease our Heavenly Father. Like children, we need correction and to observe others modeling godly behavior to train us.
Surround yourself with friends who love the Lord. Attend church and Bible Study. Read Christian books and watch Christian movies. Your children are watching and they will see you modeling godly behavior.
Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (NIV)
1 Peter 2:12 – “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (NIV)
You may also be interested in this article on Raising Godly Children in a Broken World
What about you? Share, in the comments below, a time when your children modeled your behavior – good or bad and what you both learned from it.