MODELING…is where the rubber meets the road. Walk the Talk! Recently, at one of my classes at Hutchins State Jail, I was teaching on this subject. At the end of the class, a young man approached me and shared this. “Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder that your talk talks.” Right, young man! That is a more graphic way to say; “it is better caught than taught”.
A couple of years ago, our grandson, Luke, spoke at one of our Fathers Forums. As we were finishing up, I asked him if there was one thing he would want to leave with the men. He didn’t hesitate. Leaning forward, he said; “Dads, we’re watching you”! You could have heard a pin drop. It is so true. Robert Fulghum is quoted as saying; “Don’t worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you.” What they want and need to see is your actions line up with your words.
Last weekend at our granddaughter’s State track meet, it came time for prayer and the National Anthem. We had been sitting next to a family whose grandfather had served in our armed forces. During the Anthem, we noticed the young grandson standing beside his grandfather who was saluting the flag. I nudged Joanne. She took this photo. After the Anthem ended, she showed the grandfather. His smile said volumes. Do you see the modeling going on? A grandfather positively influencing his young grandson, without saying a word. Awesome!
The definition of model is—‘worthy of imitation’. Paul said to his disciples in Corinth to “imitate me”. (I Cor. 4.16) Why could he boldly challenge them to do that? Because in a later part of his letter, he said, “just as I also imitate Christ”. (vs. 11.1) Would you be brave enough to ask your children and grandchildren to imitate you? Paul had seen and been trained by the perfect role model, the risen Christ. It is how he followed Jesus in all of his sufferings that really spoke volumes to me.
Dads, what are the role models in our culture today who are influencing our kids? Are they all positive? You might not ever be your child’s best friend, but you can and should be their best role model. ‘So, Bill, how can I work toward that?’ Well, Jesus had said to his disciples, as recorded in John 14.9, “If you had known me you would have known my Father.” (paraphrased by me ) In other words; a ‘spitting image’. He also said that he did not do or say anything that was not seen or heard by him from his Father. Shows us who his eyes of faith were fixed upon while on this earthly journey.
I really think the author of Hebrews lays it out best for us. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders—our walk and modeling—and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us—and now here comes the most important exhortation—fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12. 1,2 NIV).
So, practically, I would suggest that we dads read and learn from the life of Paul and great men of faith that have gone before us. Primarily though, as it states in Hebrews, our eyes of faith should be squarely fixed on Jesus. Are our children seeing us this way? If we are, they just may see the Perfect Model through us. Wouldn’t that be great? And as that old, old toast goes—here’s looking at you! And for sure, they are!