"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
This week I was reminded of this verse. Most of you know that my wife, Erin, and I have two small children (a 3.75 year old and a 9 month old). I am a stay-at-home dad, so my primary job is caring for them. But, this week I struggled with this. I was presented with a couple of options for some ministry work outside of the home. This occupied most of my thoughts and I found myself becoming somewhat irritable which came to its pinnacle on Thursday as I was not very gracious with my patience toward my son.
We were at a very public place and he was not listening well. In the middle of one activity, he proceeded to do something that I had asked him not to do. Instead of responding with grace, I was very stern, perhaps overly stern with him. This brought tears to his eyes and guilt to me. The situation was easily forgotten by Lincoln, but not by me. On our way home, my mind kept replaying the way I responded to him and I was reminded of Proverbs 22:6. I wondered what kind of example I was setting for my son. At that moment, was I training him in the way he should go?
Many parents train with a "do as I say and not as I do" approach (myself included). But training is more than telling or pointing your children to the right kind of conduct, it is also showing them. It is being the right kind of example for them to follow. It is living your life in a way that shows your child the way they should go. At times this may require discipline, but even more than that, it will require love, grace, and humility.
When we returned home, I sat Lincoln on his bed. I got down on my knees and looked him in eyes and apologized for the way I responded. His reply was priceless. He looked at me and said, "thank you, you're a good daddy and I love you." When it comes to forgiveness and moving forward, his response is an example for us all to follow.