100x More Effective
ACTIONS over ADVICE
The number one killer of teens by far is automobile crashes (source). Yet, surprising to most people, the majority of these crashes do not involve alcohol. Rather, it is distracted and careless driving that usually plays the major role (source). While authorities encourage parents to talk to their teen drivers about driving safely, the truth is that a few minutes of discussion, while noble, will never outweigh 16 or 17 years of personal observation.
Children learn 100x more by what they see their parents doing, then by what their parents tell them.
When a child grows up, year after year, watching his parents talk on the cell phone while driving, drive recklessly, disobey traffic rules, and ignore speed limits, they learn a very powerful message that a few minutes of, “Now, Jonny, you drive safely out there” discussion will not erase.
What’s even more sobering is that driving is not the most important thing we teach our children. Not even close.
Telling our children that they should read their Bibles and pray more is 100x less effective then allowing our children to see us reading our Bibles and praying at times other than meals or bedtime.
Telling our children to stop complaining and to “give thanks in all circumstances” is 100x less effective then allowing our children to see us refusing to complain when things don’t go the way we prefer.
Telling our children to not be so selfish and to serve others and to be generous is 100x less effective then allowing them see us giving our resources generously and serving others willingly.
And yes, telling our children to respect and obey authority is 100x less effective than allowing our children to see us obeying the rules in our lives (even the dumb rules . . . especially the dumb rules). When parents skirt the rules, rationalize their actions, or disrespect authority with their words, is it any wonder why it is so difficult to get children to obey rules, not make excuses, and respect authority?
Advice is powerful and often necessary, but actions are so much more so. A wise mentor of mine used to often say to his middle school students, “Your actions are speaking so loud, I can’t hear what your saying.”
In the ancient Hebrew prayer, The Shema, God instructs parents to teach their children, not simply in occasional, formal educational settings, but throughout each day, in all kinds of varied and unexpected opportunities:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Talk is necessary, but authentic example is 100x better.
Follower of Christ:
Who were the godly examples in your life?
Do you talk to you children about your own Scripture reading and prayer life?
Do you follow the rules? Do you realize your children notice very keenly when you don’t?
Are you making the most of your opportunity to spend many hours, side-by-side, with your students, guiding them toward Christ?
Do your students see you growing in your faith?
Has the hypocrisy of “religious” people in your life turned you off to God?
In what ways are the claims of Christ separate from the failings of those who claim to know Him?