January 10, 2007
There’s a new song by Rodney Atkins called “Watching You” about how a father realizes that his four year old son is learning how to do things by watching his dad. That song struck a chord with me and reminded me of something that happened a long time ago when my son was only 5 years old.
One Sunday morning, as we were driving to church, I heard my 5 year old son’s cheerful little voice calling from the back seat.
“Hey, Dad. Guess what?”
(This is how conversations go with young children. A real lesson in patience if you really want to know what’s on their minds.)
“Hey Dad, know what I’m gonna be when I grow up?”
“I don’t know son. What are you going to be when you grow up?”
“I’m gonna be a Daddy!”
“Well son, there’s sure a good chance for that”
“Yeah Dad, but I’m gonna be a Daddy just like you!”
“Really? Wow. Thank you son!” (feeling a little puffed up and proud by this time)
“Yeah Dad. I’m gonna be just like you! When I drive my car, and somebody gets in my way, I’m gonna honk my car at ‘em and yell ‘Get outta my way you dummy!’ – Yeah, Dad…….I’m gonna be ….. just ……….like………….you.”
Ouch. You could just about hear the whistling of the air escaping as my pride bubble was slowly bursting. His mother was laughing so hard she nearly fell out of the car.
All I could think of to say was “Well, son, let’s hope you do a lot better job at being a Daddy than I’ve been doing so far.” And just like the father in that song, I prayed, “Lord, please help me…”
That day, my life changed forever. I realized I wasn’t being a good father to my son. Oh, I worked hard and provided a good home for him, took him to church and tried my best to teach him all those things a good father tries to teach his son. But it wasn’t until that day when I learned that what I showed him was more important than what I told him. Hadn’t someone told me about that before? Maybe, I really don’t remember. Perhaps just like with my son, I needed to be shown, not just told, what to do. I needed an attitude adjustment in how I reacted to other people, and the Lord used my own son to give it to me.
Ephesians 6:1 tells us “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Do you really think children will obey their parents just because somebody says so? Some will and some won’t. I think it would be much easier if we gave them a good example to follow, rather than by just telling them.
The Bible also says to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not part from it.” Did you notice it says to “train”, not just “tell”? To properly train someone to do something, you need to show them how to do it. Leading by example. “….As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Serve, train, teach – these are all things that you do, not just talk about.
My son, who is 18 now, called me the other day. He asked if I remembered how I’d always tried to teach him to be polite, treat people with respect, put others first and to do the right thing. He said it used to annoy him, but lately he’s finding himself actually doing those things, even when he doesn’t really want to. He called me just to say thanks. To steal a line from another song, “In all that I’ve done wrong, I must have done something right….”. He doesn’t even remember that day in the car when he was 5.
I, however, will never forget.
Remember, somebody’s watching you.