Teaching by Example…Lessons in Servanthood

My children never cease to amaze me in how much they pick up from people around them in word and behavior. Moments like Caleb kissing and hugging his little sister because he has observed us doing this. Or Naomi busily putting away toys as she tries to mimic mummy’s “tidy up” song. Being a mother has caused me to assess my behavior in many circumstances because of what it might be teaching my children. I am realizing more and more that although it’s important to express things verbally, my children are very much guided by what they see.

My daily prayer, without putting too much pressure on myself, is that my husband and I can be good examples for our children. Some days it feels like an enormous responsibility too great to bear. I feel simultaneously privileged yet sometimes uneasy that we are ultimately in charge of raising these two precious children. They learn so much from other people too, of course, but the fact that we are their primary caregivers, teaching them about life sometimes stops me short as I contemplate the great importance of this task.

Earlier this week, I was reading a passage in the Bible that describes the scene where Jesus is washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). He gingerly removes his outer clothing, wraps a towel around his waist like a servant would, and starts to wash the disciples’ feet. I have read this passage before but this simple act of humility never ceases to amaze me. Jesus could have simply told his disciples he loved them but he went beyond this and performed an act that demonstrated how much he valued them and set an example for them to follow as they encountered others. This story really reminds me of how much I want to teach my children and to do it by example. It’s not easy. There are days I get impatient with the children and wish I could have been more understanding. But I remind myself that I am only human and I cannot expect perfection. In fact, parenting has shown me just how imperfect I am.

But when all is said and done, even after a challenging evening with the children, when I put my son to bed, I always ask him “you know that I love you, right?” He lets out a big, beaming smile, nodding vigorously, seemingly unaware that we had a difficult evening, and I am struck by how quick he is to forgive, his arms draped securely around my neck.

Caleb with Naomi (who is looking particularly mischievous in this photo!)
Caleb with Naomi (who is looking particularly mischievous in this photo!)
Caleb the bookworm being a good example for his little sister! When not fighting over toys, they love reading together!
Caleb the bookworm being a good example for his little sister! When not fighting over toys, they love reading together!
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