A few years later we were attending a church in Minneapolis. It was there we first saw what living out God’s love looked like. We were challenged by the example of everyone around us. The teaching from the front was Biblical, plus the leaders freely shared personal experiences in detail. Their transparency taught us how to apply God’s word to our everyday life.
In hind sight, I think it was TLC that broke the disconnect and helped us to live boldly and love others with our actions and our words. Sure tender loving care was part of it, but I am talking about teaching, leading and communication.
The teaching part was showing us in God’s word what He tells us. It gave us a reason to do what was being presented; that reason was that God told us to. By presenting the scriptures as our foundation, we grew in knowledge and conviction. Teaching is key, don’t ever think any differently, yet, that is where our first church stopped and it left us hanging.
Seeing is believing, so seeing other Christians love each other and have a burden for the lost was monumental. We spent time with this new group of Christians and saw them serving wholeheartedly. The leaders didn’t just tell us what to do they lead us by doing it themselves. What they did wasn’t always perfect, yet they moved and lead us by example.
What affected me most though was the open communication of the leadership, as well as amongst our new friends. Never before had I heard a Pastor apologize for making a mistake that hurt people, in front of everyone. Plus, the candid descriptions of their living out their convictions gave me a vision for what I could do. Hearing how others struggled, yet striving to overcome, was refreshing and helped me to get back up when I fell.
Now I think this same principle can help with the disconnect I see in our families regarding parenting, namely training children in character.
Teaching our children gives them a reason to pursue godly character. Opening the Word and showing them what God requires of us is their foundation. Proverbs 1: 8 “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Instructing and teaching are assumed here; we have a job to do. Proverbs 3:1 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart”. First, we must teach and command, and then we can urge them not to forget them. As a side note, notice it says “my son”---this is the parent’s responsibility. Even if we choose to add other sources, it is still us that will one day give an account for what our child’s been taught.
Leading by doing; by being what we claim to believe and want of them is monumental. Hypocrisy is rampant in our churches; let’s not let it be in our homes too. Actions speak louder than words. What we do and how we live does make a difference! As parents our goal should be to be like Paul, so we can say to our children as he did to the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Our children notice if we say, “Don’t read secular magazines” yet, read all the headlines as we stand in the grocery isle. We must lead by having your actions line up with words. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. How we respond to our mistakes can show our children how to pick themselves back up, how to forgive, and how to walk humbly.
Communication is key. Don’t stop talking..at least keep trying. Start when they are young and then it will be natural to talk about everything. A great way to get children to listen is to share stories from your life. Start reminiscing and the children’s ears will become peaked. Relate to them by remembering what trouble found you at their age. God stories are fabulous, they serve double duty, relating and showing how alive God is.Todd will sometimes say to me, “Don’t you remember being that age?” That is a good reminder to put myself in their shoes and communicate how I remember those same struggles.
So let’s head for no more disconnect between knowing about character training and reaching our children through TLC.