More is Caught Than Taught

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The adage “more is caught than taught” is undoubtedly true concerning how children learn to love and live for Jesus.

Children mimic what they see. Most children want to be like their mom or dad. How are you living? You’re either living according to the world’s ways or according to God’s ways (Romans 8:5-8). Your child watches you like a hawk. Are your actions lining up with your words? Jesus must be more than a label; He must be the consuming purpose of your life.

Everything we do, possibly more so than what we say, affects our children. Children may be small in stature, but they’re big in discernment. What are we really teaching our children? If we want our children to live for Jesus, they must see Jesus living in us!

Children may be small in stature, but they’re big in discernment. Click To Tweet

We’re deluded if we expect our children to do as we say rather than as we do. Children are watching and taking in what we do and how we do it. American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson in an 1839 letter, said, “The apple never falls far from the tree.” In other words, children develop similar characters and dispositions to the temperaments and personalities of their parents.

Actions speak louder than words (1 John 3:18). Good parenting takes more than teaching God’s Word; it’s acting on God’s Word. While families should engage with God’s Word daily, children learn more about Jesus from watching their parents obey God’s Word. You may have great Bible teaching moments with your children, but nothing tops you striving to imitate Jesus in full view of your family (Philippians 2:1-11).

You may have great Bible teaching moments with your children, but nothing tops you striving to imitate Jesus in full view of your family. Click To Tweet

Do we make mistakes? Of course, we do. But that should never stop us from doing everything we can to give our children glimpses of Jesus through how we walk our talk.

With more caught than taught, how do we live for Jesus every day? Here are some pointers:

Seek guidance.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” Proverbs 16:3.

Pray earnestly.

Be prayerfully reliant on Jesus and not on your self-sufficiency (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

Seek forgiveness.

When you mess up, let your children see you turning to the One who never messes up (Psalm 127:1).

Lead by example.

Your example as a parent is your most powerful parenting tool. Serve your children (Philippians 2:7). Ask yourself, what do I need to do so my children see me taking up the towel? (John 13:1-13).

Be consistent.

Little eyes are always watching you. There will be days when you feel like giving up. Dig deep. Keep on keeping on (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

Model faithfulness.

When you don’t want to open your Bible, open it anyway. Your children will remember your faithfulness and likewise be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Become the person you want your children to be.

Identifying what our children see us doing and correcting our actions is essential. Regularly ask the Lord to help you change and grow in the areas where you need help. Become the person you want your children to be. God will not let you down. You can be sure that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6.

Consider your legacy.

We should also note that good parenting is contagious. Your children will become parents much like you. What you’re doing or not doing will trickle down from one generation to the next. It’s not just the spiritual well-being of your children that’s at stake; how you’re living and loving Jesus as a parent today will impact the future spiritual well-being of your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Your children will become parents much like you. What you’re doing or not doing will trickle down from one generation to the next. Click To Tweet

ChatGPT suggested “Raising Faithful Children: The Power of Modeling Jesus’ Love” as a title for this article. Artificial intelligence captured what I’m trying to communicate – what I’m inviting you to tap into and do. Hopefully, you’ll recognize the power of modelling Jesus’ love too. For if you do, as the chatbot identified, you’ll be well on the way to raising faithful children.

What are your thoughts about more is caught than taught? Please share in the comments.

[Note: The teaching aspect of parenting should not be overlooked. The Bible elevates both catching (modelling) and teaching Christ. Concerning our responsibility to teach Christ, consider these texts – Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:7, Psalm 78:5-6, Proverbs 1:8, Ephesians 6:4. That to say there’s no substitute for parents living in a manner that emulates Jesus, but we must also commit to verbally teaching the Bible in ways that help our children develop a profound, enduring, Scripture-saturated faith]

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3 Responses

  1. Right on Lawson. Along the same line as Emerson’s quote I came across this, unfortunately I don’t have a name to credit.:

    Parents cannot expect their children to prioritize what they marginalize.

  2. Thanks for reminding us that what we do shouts much more loudly to our children than anything we say to them. A Czech friend once shared a proverb with me: “I learn a little from what you say, more from what you do and the most from who you are.” Who we are and how we live together as a family matters in our children’s spiritual development!

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