Famous child psychiatrist Fritz Redl used to say to groups of parents: “Get out your paper and pencils. I am going to tell you the three most important things you will ever need to know about raising children.” The parents would wait breathlessly for his words of wisdom. Then he would say, “Example, example, example.”

In case you doubt the importance of teaching by example, think about your own childhood. How were you most influenced to become the person you are now? Chances are that the
person you have become was influenced mostly by the example set by your parents.

One of my biggest fears as a preacher is preaching the “how to live” on Sundays and not actually living that at home with my family. Making my walk match my talk is so important to me. I try to ask my kids periodically, “Am I doing at home what I’m preaching on Sundays?”

I was reminded recently about my walk matching my talk when my sarcastic son Taylor, who’s just like his father, reminded me of something I said in a sermon that I didn’t
want to hear. I’d been trying all summer to get some new grass seeded in a bald spot in the front yard. My sons and all their neighborhood friends decided our yard was the best place for their Sunday afternoon ballgames (which is why there is the current bald spot). So I stepped out the front door and said, “Guys, if possible watch my new grass over there” (translation: “Stay off my new grass or I’ll choke you“). Taylor quickly shot back, “Hey Dad, don’t forget you’re raising boys around here, not grass.” That was an exact quote from a previous sermon I’d done just weeks before. Ouch!

Does your walk match your talk when it comes to your children? Or do you do dumb things that your children clearly see?

  • Do we tell our kids to be honest and then tell them when they answer the phone, “If it’s for me, tell them I’m not here?”
  • Do we tell them to obey the law and then speed down the highway when we’re running late?
  • Do we lie for them to get them out of trouble? Do we write them notes saying they were sick when they weren’t?
  • Do we tell our children to control their anger and then go ballistic at one of their ballgames when a referee makes a bad call?
  • Do you tell your kids they’re not allowed to watch rated R movies and then go see them yourselves?
  • Do we praise our children for excelling athletically and academically more than we do spiritually?

I understand that none of us are capable of perfection or anything close to it. We all lose our tempers, say things we’re sorry for, are not always as kind as we would like to be, maybe even cheat a little here or there. We are human and so are our children. Perfection can be expected of neither. When we screw up we need to apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness. When we apologize, we’re teaching them that when they make a mistake it’s not the end of their world, but that they can admit it and grow from it.

It is essential as a parent that your kids see your walk match your talk. And what ever you do, make sure you don’t forget that you’re growing kids not grass.

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Greg says:

    Trey, I always HATED it when my wife or children would throw something back in my face that I’d preached the Sunday before! But they did … and it would straighten me up fast.

  2. lisa says:

    Gee, my Dad’s perfect. I never had to throw something back at him that he had preached. (o;

  3. lisa says:

    Actually, though I was kidding about him being perfect, I don’t really recall catching him doing something contrary to what he had preached.

  4. Stacie says:

    Great post, with 4 boys of my own I have to admit I have done some of the things you described. Getting better every day, its progress not perfection.

  5. Roadtripray says:

    I was driving home with our son Zakk (then 15) in the car and someone did something (that I considered) stupid and I said some less-than-charitable things about that person’s intelligence. Zakk said “Okay, preacherman.” Ouch! The rebuke of a child hurts double.

    It’s hard to eat crow when kids are serving it up, but that’s when it’s the most important to admit fallibility. It reminds me of that country song, I can’t think of the name of it, but it’s about the little boy saying the four-letter word when he dropped his french fries. The dad asked where the boy learned it, and he said he learned it from you, ’cause dad I wanna be just like you.

    The end of the song is great, too, because at the end the boy overheard the dad praying, and if memory serves me correctly, I think the boy is then praying and says that he learned it from dad “’cause I wanna be just like you.”

    Anybody know that song? I don’t usually listen to country, but caught the video when flipping through channels about a year ago and it made an impression on me.

    — Ray

  6. Sherry Fisher says:

    I have had to apologize to my children several times for irrational, idiotic things that I have said and done over the years. I hope that they can see that mistakes are a part of life and I am not perfect…if they see that, maybe they will feel like they can turn to me when they make mistakes. I don’t know if I am doing the right things the right way or not (do we ever know??)
    Parenting is such a hard job sometimes!! I love that “progress not perfection” thought from stacie.

  7. Evan Williams says:

    Hey Trey i just started a new blog so if you have time check it out and tell me what you think.

  8. Evan Williams says:

    yes sir you are the first i just made it this morning.

  9. Zach Detwiler says:

    I don’t have children yet! Thank goodness I don’t have to practice that!..ha..yeah right..

  10. Matthew says:

    Great advice and reminder.

  11. David says:

    Hey Trey,

    Your right, we should never have children. My worst fear is having a really smart child that will be able outhink me by age 12. (Okay, maybe they wouldn’t have to be 12 to do that.)

  12. preacherman says:

    Great post brother.
    I remember as a youth minister a mother coming in my office and asking me if she should make her child go to Bible class and church? I asked her the question? You make him go to school don’t you? She answered, yes. How much more is his spiritual education? How much more is his soul?

    We tend to forget that we aren’t our children’s best friends that we are thier parents. The best advice my dad gave me when my son was born that changed my view on parenting was: “Son I want you to know you are not raising “son’s,” you are raising, “Souls”.

    Yes I have a job as a preacher, as a minister but my most important job is at home. Being the best husband and father I can be. Raising those souls be become godly, faithful, that one day, they will want to make that great confession of faith.

    Thanks tray for this wonderful post brother. Keep up the great posts coming. Your blog has been such a blessing to so many.

  13. NB says:

    Hit and sunk! Oh, I am so guilty!

    I have often told my kids to “be kind to everyone, no matter what”, then I’ve turned right around and said something unkind about one of the nuts on our own family tree.

  14. Stephanie says:

    THANKS for the reminder….

  15. David Kirk says:

    God sees you and smiles. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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Trey Morgan
Husband, father and cancer survivor & Senior Minister for the Childress Church of Christ. Tweets about life, marriage, Texas Rangers and randomness.
  • He was pretty tough to listen to as well.
  • As crazy as it might sound, Chris Collinsworth just might be worse to listen to than the song Christmas Shoes.
  • Please remember that some Christmas music is incredibly offensive to people with grandmothers who actually were run over by reindeer.
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  • Chin up Childress Bobcats. We couldn't be prouder. Great fight tonight.

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