God has blessed my family with a beautiful son, Leif, and a second son to come in January, Tryggve. Leif is now 17 months old and I have started to notice that Leif likes to copy his daddy in a lot of ways. For instance if I am folding clothes, I can guarantee that Leif will be right there folding clothes with me. If I am cooking dinner Leif will be right there wanting to cook with me. God has blessed me with the ability to make all sorts of interesting noises with my mouth and anytime I do, Leif is right there trying to do the same thing. If I lie on the living room floor with my head on the pillow, then Leif will lie on the floor with his head on the same pillow. I have to say that I love this.
This got me thinking though, if Leif picks up on these little actions I am doing then what else will he pick up on as he grows up? Will he learn to handle struggles and situations in a way that honors God or will he just react in his emotions like his daddy does sometimes? Will he be found constantly criticizing others or will he view things through a Biblical worldview? Will he treat his mom with love and compassion or will he be condescending in his interactions with her? Will he develop habits of spending time in God’s Word and prayer or will he struggle to find the time to fit it into his busy schedule? Suddenly it dawned on me that I have a bigger job than I ever realized before. My son is going to imitate me and I had better make sure that will be a good thing.
Your Teens Learn From What You Do
Your kids are watching you. You might say all the right things, but unless you practice those as well do not be surprised when your teens do what you do instead of what you say. Let me illustrate what I mean by this. I have talked with a lot of parents who are concerned about the amount of time that their teen spends playing video games. They are at their wit’s ends when they cannot get their kids to do their homework or help with the chores around the house. However, dad spends most of his time at home plopped in front of the television watching sports or some other show and does not set the example of helping around the house or spending quality time with their spouse or children. Is there anything wrong with watching television? Absolutely not (depending on the material you are watching). Is there anything wrong with playing video games? No (depending on the game you are playing)? Is there anything wrong with watching so much television you neglect your duties? Absolutely! Is there anything wrong with playing so many video games you neglect your responsibilities? Yes! Dad, maybe the standard you have given your teens to imitate is the reason you are having a struggle getting them to be responsible.
Before you get discouraged about the way your kids behave, take a minute to examine the example you are setting. If they struggle with respecting authority, look at the example you set in regards to your authority (um, can you say speed limits?). If they speak in a condescending way examine your communication and see how you speak to others (or about others).
Follow Christ and Lead By Example
One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” In this passage the Apostle Paul is talking about the struggle of balancing Christian liberty issues and then tells the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitates Christ. This is kind of the highest measure of imitation. I want to be just like Christ and I want you to be like me. What it your initial reaction to life situations was like Christ? Imagine if your kids were learning to react like you do. Then you would be leading your family to be like Christ. What if you were constantly found growing in your reading, studying and knowledge of God’s Word? Imagine if your kids decided to follow your example and were pouring into the Scriptures for everything relating to life and godliness.
Being a godly Father is a lot more involved than being a dad who goes to church. We need men who will Father their children. The first step is to imitate Christ, and then to teach your kids to imitate you.