My husband pointed it out. There was our little girl, sitting quietly in the tub, folding her washcloth – just like I folded our towels. She’d shake it out and do it again and again. I had never taught her this skill, but I had folded many, many loads of laundry while she played nearby. I was struck by the power of my example in teaching my children – the great importance of how I live, what I do, and how I do it. Please don’t misunderstand me – direct, verbal teaching is vital. But, the weight of our words is carried by the example we set.
The Bible says this in several ways.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. ~ Philippians 3:17
And of course, we know that we have the best example to follow:
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. ~ 1 Peter 2:21
I know this to be a true concept in my own life. How many times have I learned more, simply by watching a spiritual mentor? How many times have I seen how to wisely handle (or how not to handle) a tough situation? How many times have I been humbled by the gentle and quiet example I observed of another Christian? How many times have I learned of a better, purer way of living by reading the most beautiful example – that of Christ himself?
And so, I am struck by the weight of this question – what am I teaching by my example? And what are you teaching by yours?