We have two teenagers in our house. As they have gotten older, I have noticed that when I drive, my kids are watching. I can feel their eyes from the back seat or the passenger seat, peering over at what I am doing. From my speed, to if I make a complete stop, to how much gas we have left, to how soon I turn on my turn signal.
And it is isn’t just driving, but Heather and I notice how their eyes are always watching. They watch how we interact as a husband and wife, and frankly are grossed out sometimes when we kiss in front of them. I’m ok with that. 😉 They need to see that their parents love each other and still have affection for one another.
If you have kids, or when you have children, their eyes are always going to be watching. Not just when they are teenagers, but in every stage of life. From infant to adulthood. Those eyes are watching. They are soaking it all in. The cliché is true…more is caught than taught. The question that we must wrestle with as parents is, what are they seeing through those eyes?
The Apostle Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (ESV) The NIV translates it this way, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
In essence, this is what we say to our children, follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. Imitate my life, as I seek to imitate the life of Christ. The question is not if our children are watching our lives. It is what are they seeing through those eyes?
And please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not suggesting or proposing that we attempt to live dual lives with our children. Where we act one way when we are with them, and another way, when we are apart. Because the reality is that, our children can smell hypocrisy and two-faced living a mile away. And with social media nowadays, frankly, your children can either currently, or one day will see thanks to the World Wide Web, if who you say you are with them is the same as who you are without them.
The eyes are always watching. They are watching how you…
- Choose faithfulness
- Demonstrate patience
- Love your spouse
- Treat your ex
- Honor authority
- Choose contentment
- Drive for the glory of God
- Generously give of your money
- Read your Bible
- Love your spouse
- Choose joy in the midst of a trial
- Grieve the loss of a loved one
- Show and tell of Jesus to others
- Use your spare time
- Treat the waiter or cashier
- Serve others
- Welcome people into your home
- Treat officials and coaches at a sporting event
- Work hard
- Speak words and the tones you use
- Respond to crisis or difficult circumstances
- Avoid and flee from sexual temptation
- Ask forgiveness when you sin, especially against them
- Handle alcohol
- Serve and are a part of a local church
- Are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry
- Criticize others or seek to build them up
- Gossip about others or avoid it
- And the list goes on…
You could sum it up this way. They are watching how you…
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength
- Love your neighbor
- Go and make disciples
Their eyes are always watching. They are not looking for perfection. They are your children. They already know you are not perfect. They are looking for authenticity and integrity though. And God is looking for us as parents, to imitate Christ to our children.
Again, the question is not if they are watching your way of life. The question is what are they seeing in your way of life? Are they seeing a growing love, devotion to, and dependence upon God Himself? Are they seeing you make progress in your faith in Christ?
Don’t hide these things from your children. From your victories to your struggles. Don’t expect them to just magically catch it. But talk about the choices you are making and why. Talk about it when you get up, when you lie down, and when you walk along the road. (Deuteronomy 6).
Don’t expect your children to not follow your example. Expect and anticipate they will. So by the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and in relationship with other believers, seek to live a life that imitates Jesus. That says to your children, no matter their age, follow me, as I follow Jesus. It is never too late!
Generations will be changed as a result, and God will get the glory.