Many of you know that my background is in education. Sonja’s, too. Over the last ten years or so I have taught a variety of disciplines in a Christian school setting. So the idea of teaching is before my mind more frequently than for some folks. These days our children attend a great school three days per week while we administer assignments from home the other two days per week. But that’s not what makes us teachers now.
The fact of the matter is – whether we like it or not – we are always teaching. Whether we are giving a science test or math drill or taking a walk in the park or eating dinner, we are always teaching.
The most profound lessons my children learn from me do not pertain to the facts and data that they’ll use in later academic settings. Rather, these lessons pertain to how I am handling life. How I deal with problem people. How I regard challenges. How I maintain or lose my joy based on circumstances. My loves, passions, my points of disgust. The lessons associated with those teaching points imbed deeper in little hearts than being able to recite the thirteen original colonies in chronological order.
And that makes me really uncomfortable.
I wish my kids (and students) would just do as I say, but that’s not likely. My children are learning from me all the time, whether I want them to or not, and especially when I don’t want them to.
They are learning that our life centers on church, that being with people is sometimes more important than getting to bed on time, and that eating spinach is completely normal and yummy. They are learning that we don’t do everything every other family does…and that’s completely okay. They are learning that reading the Bible is important enough to Mommy that she doesn’t emerge from the bedroom in the morning until she’s done that. They are learning that exercise is super cool. And hopefully they’re learning other good things, too.
But sadly, that’s not all they’re learning. Based on occasional experience, I have to conclude that they’re learning some things that I wish they wouldn’t. They’re learning that lower back pain is a really good reason to snap at other family members. They are learning that discipline is often accompanied by parental irritation or even anger. They’re learning that a task list and a joyful spirit are directly related. They’re learning that sometimes hurtful things happen that go completely unexplained, and that Daddy and Mommy really don’t have all the answers.
Obviously back pain, long task lists, and children’s disobedience never justify grown-ups’ sin, and my words teach my children as much. But my actions often teach the opposite.
This is a haunting and inescapable reality: As long as there’s anyone watching you at all (and there always is), you are always teaching. By God’s grace, may the message of our actions be consistent with the message of our mouths. And may we set a good example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1 Timothy 4:12). May we do what we do because it’s right, but also knowing also that the way we do it is as valuable as the acts themselves.
Have you read…?
- The Sweetest Blackberries Always Grow Among the Nettles
- Feasting and Staying Lean
- Who Are We Thanking?