– Billy Sunday
If a parent tells his or her child not to say certain words but then repeats them, they shouldn’t be surprised. I heard a 5-year-old using filthy language one day at a store. The child was probably only repeating what he’d heard from either the dad or mom (or both), so the mom shouldn’t have been surprised that day to hear the profanity that came out of her child’s mouth. It could have been learned somewhere else; but if we use filthy language at home, our children will possibly grow up doing the very same thing.
At a very early age, I found my son was starting to imitate some of the things I did. Perhaps it is “like father, like son.” But that made me stop and think and then examine what I did. If I want my children to live a godly life (and I do), then what I do at home or in private becomes very important. They won’t tend to do what I say; rather, they will do what I do. They can’t really hear my words because my actions are drowning them out. Actions really do speak louder than words.
I remember my mentor, who is a retired and now disabled pastor, telling me that people will not go where you do not lead. They will not follow where you’re not willing to go. In that same way, my children will only go the way that I lead them. If I don’t lead, they’ll have no godly pattern in life to follow. If I fail to lead them on the right path, they’ll end up going into the briars and thorns with me. Only if I’m willing to go the way God would have me go should I strive to lead the way, and the ultimate way is eternal life in Jesus Christ.
A nearby church likes to use the word “Christ-follower” instead of the word “Christian” because the word “Christian” is just too broad of a definition. I know lots of people who say they’re Christian but don’t walk in the way Christ walked (1 John 3). I can walk into a garage, but that doesn’t make me a car. To be a Christian means to be Christ-like, and that means to be a follower of His. To be a Christ-follower is the true calling of every believer.
It’s great to train up a child in the ways of the Lord; but if you’re not going the same way, it’s going to be hard for that child to walk in the ways you want them to. Most children can see through our hypocrisy. More importantly, so can God. My children are all grown, and I now have grandchildren. However, it’s never too late to train up a child in the ways of the Lord. Just make sure that’s the same way you’re going.