How many of you remember hearing this, “Do as I say, not as I do”? As parents, we have a responsibility to do more than just give our children lip service. We cannot continue saying, “You do this, and I will do that.” This kind of thinking riled up my generation; we shot the peace sign and grew out our hair three feet. But kids today are not like long-hair hippies; they are short-hair hippies. They don’t shoot the peace sign; they shoot one another. Surprisingly, the thing that has them riled up is the same thing that had my generation riled up. They are tired of people saying, “Here’s one set of rules for you, and here’s another set of rules for me.”
It’s your job as a parent to be a living model for your children in all things. This includes training them how to handle mistakes. A lot of parents teach their children how to do right. When children make a bad decision rather than listening to the Word, many follow the crowd’s example of how to handle it. As parents, we must train our children how to fail forward. And that process begins when we as parents step on to the runway of life and model our decisions for our children.
Some of you may be saying, “But I bring my kids to church. Isn’t that what the children’s pastor is supposed to do?” Well, let’s look at what God’s Word says about that. In Deuteronomy 6:6 it says, “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” Now who was God talking to? He was talking to His people, the children of Israel. If He’s talking to His people, then He’s talking to us too. This is something we the parents are to do. We as parents must follow God’s commandments.
Then, look at the first part of verse seven, “teach them diligently unto thy children.” Whose job is that? Parents! Parents are to teach the Word of God to their children. Verse seven continues, “Talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” There are opportunities every day to impress the Word into your children. Talk about the Word when you relax at home, when you drive from place to place, before you go to bed, and when you get up.
These verses are talking about a lifestyle. It’s not just something you follow on Sunday and Wednesday. It’s not just something you follow when it is convenient. For some of you, that means you are going to have to make some time for your children. Turn off the television! Turn off the radio! Talk to your children! What a radical concept.
The truth is you cannot impart things into your children that you are not willing to do yourself. The best examples that your children have are you the parents. When my girls were born, I quickly realized that if I wanted my girls to grow and marry a man of God, I needed to be a man of God. If I didn’t want them to date jerks, I needed to treat their mother the way I wanted some young man to treat them one day.
I believe with all my heart what is good for the goose is good for the gander. The same set of rules applies to you as well as to your children. We all must model the behavior we want our kids to follow. This means that when you make a mistake or fail at something, the way you handle it is the way your kids will learn to handle it.
When you make a mistake, go to the Word, correct the error and vow to never make that same mistake again. This is the key to failing forward. This will be the example that trains your kids how to handle their own mistakes. As you fail forward, you will see your children do the same.