I have heard it said that some things are better caught than taught. We teach through what we say, but our words must match our actions.
We are certainly learning this principle as parents. We use words to teach Ethan how to behave, but he picks up on our actions, too.
Recently, Virgin HealthMiles replaced my GoZone pedometer (they want to test it to see why it’s not working with the Mac version of the GoZone iSync software I’m beta testing for them). After I activated the new one and just before I returned the old one, I put it on Ethan to see how many steps he gets (although he kept resetting it, so I don’t know for sure). While walking, Joleen stopped, looked at her pedometer to see how many steps she had, and immediately, Ethan stopped in his tracks, lifted up his shirt, looked at his pedometer and said “eight” (apparently, his favorite number).
This, and many other similar experiences, reinforces for us the importance of teaching behavior and character by modeling good behavior/character, ourselves. In other words, our talk must match our walk!
One of the areas that we are trying to teach through our actions as well as our words is prayer. We have devotion every night we put Ethan to bed, which includes reading Scripture out of a children’s story Bible and praying while Ethan drinks his milk. I occasionally ask him if he wants to pray and he will mumble some syllables and finish, saying, “amen.”
Recently, I asked Ethan if he wanted to pray during our evening devotional time, and he immediately clasped his hands together, dropped to his knees and then on his elbows, and mumbled a very lengthy prayer. I don’t know what he said or even if he knows what he said, but he was praying (I’m not even sure where he learned those postures!).
Every once in a while, Ethan will initiate and clasp his hands together and say, “Pway.” And we do.
This principle is not only true for parents, it’s also true for leaders. As a pastor/preacher, I want to shape a biblical culture through words (preaching/teaching). But I not only shape culture through my words, I also shape culture through my actions (the way I live).
And actions speak louder than words!