When parents are fleshing out their faith and living out their days with joy and honesty, their children will be attracted to it. Children want something that is real; they want to follow someone who is genuine. Your example—in victories and challenges, in successes and sins, in forgiveness and accountability— can lead them toward an authentic relationship with the Lord. But your faith must be both a noun and a verb. It can’t be all talk.
It’s who you are and how you conduct yourself, consistently, daily. It’s how your actions grow out of your identity in Christ. It’s the way you act when you are miles away from your family on a business trip. It’s how you respond when you are the object of advances from a coworker. It’s what you say when a neighbor gossips or a boss pressures you to fudge on the budget.
Character is who you are when no one’s watching. But count on it, your kids will watch. They’ll pick up on a wandering eye or little white lies. They’ll sense deception if you try to paint a rosy picture of your marriage when it’s more thorns than flowers. Little eyes watch; little ears listen. They notice everything. They see how you are in public and in private. They have a knack for exposing respectable frauds. When you live under the same roof, it’s hard to hide the glaring inconsistencies.
When the phone rings, your spouse answers it, and you silently mouth, “Tell her I’m not here,” don’t be surprised when your daughter lies to you in order to get herself out of an awkward jam with her grades or her boyfriend.
I’ve heard it a thousand times. A child takes an unwise detour in high school or college, and the parents come to me saying, “We don’t understand. We raised him in the church.”
And I want to ask, “But what did you model for him in the home?”
Chris Dewelt, professor of missions at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri, put it like this:
I am to be the same person whether I am holding a communion tray in my hand or a remote control. I am to be the same person whether I am in a hotel room five hundred miles from home or in the family room with my kids. I am to be the same person when I am reading my Bible or browsing through a bookstore. I am to be the same person whether I am on break at work or if I am walking through the sanctuary of my church. For what matters is my integrity, my purity, and my faithfulness.
God expects us to be genuine, to do what we say we’ll do, and to be who we claim to be.
Duplicity is not only exhausting, but it’s also damaging to the ones we love. Pretending wreaks havoc in our homes and sends mixed signals to the children we are trying to lead.
What does the Bible say about consistency?
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. — 1 John 2:3-6 (NKJV)
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. — 1 Corinthians15:58 (NIV)
You need not swear an oath—any impulse to do so is of evil. Simply let your “yes” be “yes,” and let your “no” be “no.” — Matthew 5:37(The Voice)
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. — Revelation 3:15-16
Read more from Dave Stone’s Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord.