More Is Caught Than Taught

The adage “more is caught than taught” is certainly true concerning the way children learn to live for Jesus.

Children mimic what they see and hear. Most children want to be like their mom or dad. Parents, how are you living? You’re either living according to the world’s ways or according to God’s ways (Romans 8:5-8). Your child watches you like a hawk. Are your actions lining up with your words? Jesus must be more than a label; He must be the consuming purpose of your life.

Hypocrisy stifles faith formation. The British Bible teacher Arthur W. Pink said, “Teaching that issues only from the lips is not at all likely to sink any deeper than the ears. Children are particularly quick to detect inconsistencies and despise hypocrisy.”

Everything we do, possibly more so than what we say, affects our children. Children may be small in stature, but they’re big in discernment. What are we really teaching our sons and daughters? If we want our children to live for Jesus, they must see Jesus living in us!

If we want our children to live for Jesus, they must see Jesus living in us! Share on X

If we expect our children to do as we say and not as we do, we’re deluded. Children are watching and taking in what we do and how we do it. American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson in an 1839 letter, said, “The apple never falls far from the tree.” If you knew my children, my wife and me, Emerson’s statement is resoundingly true. Children develop similar characters and dispositions to the characters and dispositions of their parents.

Actions speak louder than words (1 John 3:18). Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th US President, said, “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.”

Good parenting takes more than teaching God’s Word; it’s acting on God’s Word. While families should read and reflect on God’s Word every day, children learn more about Jesus from watching their parents obey God’s Word. You may have great Bible teaching moments with your children, but nothing tops you striving to imitate Jesus in full view of your family (Philippians 2:1-11).

While families should read and reflect on God’s Word every day, children learn more about Jesus from watching their parents obey God’s Word. Share on X

Christian parents aren’t perfect, but they are purposeful. Do we make mistakes? Of course, we do. But, that should never stop us from doing everything we can to give our children glimpses of Jesus through the way we walk our talk. Here are some pointers to help you live for Jesus every day:

  • “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” Proverbs 16:3
  • Be prayerfully reliant on Jesus and not on your self-sufficiency (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • When you mess up, let your children see you turning to the One who never messes up (Psalm 127:1)
  • Lead by example. Serve your children (Philippians 2:7). Ask yourself, what do I need to do so my children see me taking up the towel? (John 13:1-13)
  • Be consistent. Little eyes are always watching you. There will be days when you feel like giving up. Dig deep. Keep on keeping on (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
  • Model faithfulness. When you don’t want to open your Bible, open it anyway. Your children will remember your faithfulness and likewise be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2)
  • Invite your children to imitate you (1 Corinthians 11:1)
  • Love your children as Christ loves you (Ephesians 5:1-2)
  • Remember that no parent extends grace better than the one who knows he urgently needs it (Luke 6:31)

Identifying what our children see us doing, and correcting our actions, is essential. Take some time, maybe once a week, to ask the Lord to help you change and grow in the areas where you need help. To have the same mindset as Christ requires submission and obedience to His authority. Become the person you want your children to be! God will not let you down. You can be certain that through the empowering of the Holy Spirit “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6.

Become the person you want your children to be! Share on X

Finally, remember that good parenting is contagious. Your children will become parents much like you. What you’re doing, or not doing, will trickle down from one generation to the next. It’s not just the spiritual well-being of your children that’s at stake; how you’re living for Jesus as a parent today impacts the future spiritual well-being of your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

[Note: We should not overlook the teaching aspect of parenting. The Bible elevates both catching (modelling) and teaching Christ. Concerning our responsibility to teach Christ, consider these texts – Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:7, Psalm 78:5-6, Proverbs 1:8, and Ephesians 6:4. That to say there’s no substitute for parents living in a manner that emulates Jesus, but we must also commit to verbally teaching the Bible in ways that help our children develop a profound, enduring, Scripture-saturated faith]

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© Scripture Union, 2022

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful read. I thank God for the way you articulate God’s Word and wisdom in such relevant and practical ways.
    God bless.

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