We all are familiar with the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do.” And if you have lived for more than two minutes in this world, you know how stupid that is.
Do as I say not as I do never works – especially when it comes to parenting. There is an older saying that rings a thousand times truer, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Have you spent much time thinking about what message your actions communicate to your student? God has entitled parents with the primary role of the spiritual growth of their children (Eph. 4:11; 6:4) – this means that you, not the youth pastor or small group leader, are the most influential spiritual leader in their life, whether you want that position or not. This means that we are always leading our students in some way, for good or for bad. If we want to be aware of whether or not we are leading our students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, it is best to look at what our day-to-day lives look like in the home. What does our schedule, humor, checkbook and marriage teach our students to cherish and live for?
Listed below are twelve questions that are intended to be used as a conversation starter for spouses, if you are married, or with a close friend or another parent, if your are single. These questions are an opportunity to dialogue about what message we are proclaiming to our children with the way we live our lives. If we desire to lead our students well, we can’t take the risk of not thinking about these things. Take some time to interact with these questions; think, pray, and talk about what you think you are doing well in, and what you need to make some changes in.
Remember, there are probably several things on this list that might be painful to read, because you see how far you are falling short (any honest parent will admit that). But the point we are trying to stress is not that students need perfect parents, but rather they need repentant parents. The role of Perfect Parent is already taken (James 1:17); repentant parent is the only spot left. This is why question #4 is probably the most important question out of them all.
To help us see what we are actually leading our students to live for
- When we look at our schedule, what does it communicate to our students what our priorities are? When we look at our student’s schedule, how does the way they spend their time reveal what is most important to them? What goals do you expect your student to achieve, and what message does that convey to them?
- When we look at how we spend our money, what does it communicate to our students what our priorities are? If our students were to grow up and follow our financial model, would we describe them as generous, wise people?
- When we look at our devotional life, what does it communicate to our students about the importance of daily reading and prayer? How often do our students see us humbling ourselves before the Lord in prayer? How often do we speak with them about things the Lord is teaching us in His Word?
- How easy is it for us to forgive our students? How easy is it for us to ask for forgiveness from our students? How often do we admit we were wrong and apologize to them? Is the grace of the Gospel evident in our home?
- What priority do we place on regularly attending corporate worship? What things do we think are important enough to cause us to miss a Sunday, or miss our GROW group? If our students were to follow our pattern when they leave for college, would we feel comfortable?
- What do our entertainment choices reveal to our students what we deem to be praiseworthy and acceptable to meditate on?
- What does our emotional life lead our students to love and hate? Does our emotional life model a heart that loves what God loves and hates what God hates? How do we intentionally display our emotions to help emotionally lead our students?
- What do the disciplinary measures we use on our student reveal about what we believe to be unacceptable for our students? Does our discipline flow from a heart that loves our students and desires their good, or angry frustration that wants them to be punished? Do we follow through on our discipline?
- Is laughter present in our home? Do we take ourselves too seriously to not be able to laugh at ourselves? Do we exhibit a healthy humility to our students?
- If you are married, how does your relationship with your spouse reveal the importance of marriage and romance to your student? Does your relationship with one another present a picture of Christ’s love for His Church ( 5:22-33)? Is it obvious to your students that your marriage comes before your relationship with your children? If your student were to replicate your intention of love and service in a marriage, would you be pleased?
- If you are single, does the priority you place on finding a spouse reveal a heart that is satisfied ultimately in Christ? Do your relationships with members of the opposite sex create a model that you would feel comfortable with your student replicating? Do the characteristics you look for in a romantic partner represent the same characteristics you hope your student to find someday in a spouse?
- If our students described what our relationship with God was like, what would they say?