By Mike Gilland
Our children are much more aware of their surroundings than we think. Even if we don’t notice it ourselves, they are picking up on conversations that we have with our spouse, noting reactions we have to aggressive drivers, and are affected by comments we make about others after a Sunday service. They are listening to our comments about our government, and all that we speak under our breath about the current pandemic.
And, they are learning.
What they learn from us in those “unguarded” moments will have a greater impact on them than those things we instruct with words only.
Actions speak louder than words, and from our hearts – words, actions and reactions – attitudes are born. We can’t avoid this axiom!
Our kids catch those attitudes. In fact, I learned an important truth years ago that was very helpful in parenting. Here it is:
Attitudes are more “caught” than “taught”.
There is no greater gift that we can give our children than that of a godly example. Now, it won’t be a perfect example, and it won’t be a sinless example. But with the help of God and His amazing grace, it can be an authentic example.
Parents who are wise will realize this, and accept as truth that we can’t teach from a position of “Do what I say, not what I do…” We have to deal with our hearts first before we can pass along a way of living that we desire our children to follow.
Our kids will see straight through our hypocrisy if we are wanting them to do something that we don’t deem important enough to implement and follow in our own lives. They will see straight through to what really drives us. They may not understand it, or even be able to articulate just what it is that drives us. But – if our actions don’t match up to our words, they’ll discount our words.
A friend in Orlando once made a statement that was powerful. I wish I had recorded it, but it went something like, “Those things we declare to be important, yet are held without passion or conviction in our own lives…those will be deemed as optional by our kids.”
We have to resist the notion that “what we do is not as important as what we say”, or the ideal that we declare with our mouths only.
When we live by convictions, our children have a compelling example laid before them, one that they will usually follow.
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Orlando, The Shepherd is heard on WIWA, AM 1270. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.