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Teaching Children to Practice What We Preach

Thursday, February 22, 2024 @ 09:11 AM Teaching Children to Practice What We Preach Jordan Chamblee Stand Writer MORE

What shapes how our children see the world? Public schools expose them to varying worldviews. The media they consume promotes relativism. Their friends’ families operate under different belief systems. Yet moms and dads still bear the responsibility of forming their children’s perspectives on truth, morality, and reality.

More than what we say, our kids are watching what we do. Our actions - how we actually live day to day - communicate what we truly believe to be real, right, and important. Do our actions reflect what we say we value? When no one is looking, do we uphold the convictions we profess? Our children will readily detect inconsistencies, even if they don’t vocalize them.

The Sobering Reality

Perhaps without even realizing it, over time our actions can erode the biblical worldview we hope to instill in our kids. We say we believe in absolute truth - but then justify gossip, little white lies, or moral compromises when convenient. We claim the Bible as the source of truth - yet barely open it, while consuming hours of television and social media. We acknowledge that we belong to God - but our schedule, finances, and relationships don’t demonstrate that in practice.

Kids are sponges, mimicking what they see far more than what they hear. The reality is that across many solid Christian homes, there often exists a divide between the biblical worldview that parents aspire to teach, and the worldview actually being seen from mom and dad’s lifestyle patterns. Closing this gap begins with self-reflection, grace, and intentionality.

Countering Relativism

“What is truth?” Pilate famously pondered. In secular culture, the concept of objective truth has been replaced by relativism - the view that each person determines their own version of “truth” and morality. This seeps into our homes as well, evident when believers casually justify sins that culture condones. From gossip to materialism to media choices, to prejudices, we all wrestle with aspects of relativism.

Do we counter this in word but model it in deed? Or do we demonstrate to our children that God’s standards don’t shift even when society does? Navigating these waters isn’t easy, but clinging to Scripture as our compass helps us avoid being swept away by cultural trends. It also provides stability for our kids so that biblical truth anchors their convictions.

Submitting to God’s Word

The Bible reveals absolute spiritual truth. Yet despite claiming its authority, many Christians spend minimal time in the Word. According to a 2016 survey by Lifeway, only about a third of regular Protestant churchgoers (32%) read the Bible daily. Roughly another quarter (27%) read it multiple times per week. Combined, that leaves less than two-thirds of churchgoers reading God's Word multiple times per week or more.

Clearly, there exists room for growth when it comes to American churchgoers prioritizing daily biblical intake as a non-negotiable staple.

If we want our kids to value God’s Word, they need to see us valuing it. That means not just owning a dust-collecting Bible, but studying it, discussing it, submitting to it - even when it counters our natural inclinations. Kids notice when mom’s convictions shift based on a friend’s advice versus God’s clear commands. When personal preferences or experiences shape our choices more than studying Scripture, we unwittingly teach kids to do the same. But when kids see us truly wrestling with applying biblical truth to life, it sets them on the journey of maintaining a biblical worldview rather than adopting whatever worldview culture promotes.

Whose Are We?

Scripture explains that as believers, we no longer belong to ourselves. We were bought at a price. Our identity and purpose are now found in Christ. So, if asked “Who are you?” the core answer would be “I belong to God.”

But does our life depict this clearly? Or could our kids perceive a different answer based on how we actually spend our time, energy, and resources?

We say Sunday worship is a priority...until soccer practice is scheduled against it. We claim to value family relationships...while constantly distracted by screens and devices. We profess that money and possessions shouldn’t define us...yet anxiously fret about promotions, appearance, status symbols, and keeping up with others.

The goal isn’t legalistic perfection. But it is regularly asking ourselves tough questions, like: Who or what are my decisions really being driven by - even unconsciously? Do I pursue comfort and self-interest, or Christlike sacrifice? Am I role-modeling priorities that align with what I want my children to value? Keeping the “Who are we?” question central helps us to recognize gaps between our professed beliefs and actual lifestyle patterns.

Consider asking yourself some reflective questions like:

  • What specific tensions do I sense between my beliefs and daily choices?
  • Which seemingly “small” inconsistencies could unconsciously erode my credibility with my kids when trying to impart biblical principles to them?
  • What messages are my kids likely internalizing from observing what I truly spend time, money, and energy on?
  • What parts of our family schedule and routines reinforce our biblical values? Which parts undermine them?

Answering these questions takes humility, wisdom, and grace. The goal isn’t guilt, but growth. Our children face immense worldview influences from teachers who are absolutely in opposition to God’s Word, and they need us to point to a better path. None of us will model perfection. But when we align our actions with our beliefs - prioritizing worship, dealing with conflict biblically, loving people unlike us - it solidifies for our kids that the truth we say we believe is actually life-changing and worthwhile.

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