I came across this excerpt as I was helping my dad prepare for one of his Sunday messages and it really struck me. It is from George Barna’s book, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. Barna has written more than three dozen books on contemporary Christian issues, with topics ranging from worldviews, trends and children to church life, spiritual growth and leadership, and he is the the founder of The Barna Group, a market research firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, and the intersection of faith and culture. His point is that modeling is so important in the lives of our children and inconsistency, so detrimental.
I quote him here as saying, “our research suggests that behavioural modelling is the most powerful component in a parent’s efforts to influence a child. It appears that as our society becomes increasingly secular, our children are developing a hypocrisy detector – an internal sensitivity to actions, attitudes, values and beliefs that are inherently contradictory to words that have been uttered as instructions. When an inconsistency is identified, a child is prone to do two things: (1) ignore the instruction itself, and (2) conclude that there is no specific command that they must obey. If you are struggling with particular aspects of raising your child, especially in relation to the faith dimension, step back and evaluate your behaviour. You may discover that while you are able to voice the appropriate concepts to your young ones, your behaviour negates those words. The ‘do as I say, not as I do approach’ is increasingly incompatible with effective influence upon children.” (Geroge Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003, pg. 85)
On the positive side, if we are able to live out the kind of faith we teach in the home, our children will grow up to really love God, too!