Do you know what is the most consistently challenging, humbling and sometimes terrifying thing about parenting?
It has to do with this statement: “It is a pedagogical truism that we teach more by what we are than by what we say. Such is the influence of personality. We learn by association with persons.” (Horne, Jesus the Teacher).
Or, in other words, “More is caught than taught.”
I am eager to teach my children about God as He has revealed Himself to us in His word, in creation and in my own life. Already Kaya can recite “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away,” (Luke 21:33) and other passages. We love reading Bible stories and recently I got to share the gospel with her in its entirety, in very simple form (what a thrill!). It is a weighty responsibility, but one that is very exciting, fulfilling and fun.
But I am increasingly humbled (and somewhat less eager!) about the other aspect of discipleship, which seems to be even more essential – that is, modeling. Big picture? My life is about Jesus. The whole direction, every major decision, it’s all about serving Him. But daily, nitty-gritty?
“The great moral and religious teachers of all time have associated with themselves a group of intimate learners, or disciples, that they might learn not so much the lessons as the way of their teacher, so that, by personal witness, the truth might be passed on to others and through them to others…” (Horne, p. 109)
My throat is sore and the toddler poured soap on the baby right before we need to head out the door and someone spilled milk and his shoes are too small again and I really need some coffee or a nap? Then I feel less pumped about being a teacher-model of life in Christ. But it is in these every day moments that I am really communicating so much to them.
And what am I teaching with this life, that we are living together?
What did Jesus teach, with the life he spent with his disciples?
Mark 3:14 shows us that Jesus called the twelve to be apostles, to first be with him and then to be sent out to preach. This is very much the way I view my role with my children. Lord-willing, they are to spend time with me learning the way, the truth and the life – to know the Father, having a goal of maturity and eventually, they will be sent out to make more disciples in the world and in their own future families.
I know that I will not be a perfect model and teacher to my children. While I hope they see overflowing fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life, I know they will also see brokenness and failure. They have already been silent witnesses to moments when I had little faith, when my actions were in tune with the world and not the Father, when my words and focus were self-centered and not Christ-worshipping. I pray that the Lord will grant me the humility to be open with them about my own insufficiencies and the grace that God gives. I pray that through abiding with Christ I will take on Christ in everything – my speech, my actions, my ouchie-kissing and dinner-preparing – so that He will be glorified in my life and in the lives of my children.
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ…” (from 2 Corinthians 2)