The Modeling Parent/Teacher

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).

Timothy was instructed to let no man despise him. But how could he accomplish this? How are we as parents or teachers to "let no man despise" us? For Timothy there was an added difficulty. He was young; younger than many of the people God called him to lead. How should he conduct himself, so as not to be despised? Should he act important? Assert his own opinions? Insist that he be heard? No. The Lord via Paul instructs him differently, "Be thou an example of the believers." Timothy was commanded to win the respect of others by the example of his life.

Here lies a key for us as parents or teachers. A consistent example, modeling the life of a believer in God earns respect. Is it not true, that parents or teachers who are not consistent consistently experience behavior problems from their children or students? Parents and teachers are called to be Bible "translators." They are called to "translate" the Word into "picture language" that young children and teens can understand. "Seeing is believing" is true here. How powerful the power of example is!

What are we to model? How are we to be a consistent example? "Be thou an example of the believers." But how? Seek God’s grace to be an example in the following ways:

First, in our words, in our talk. The better we know the written Word, the Bible, and the Living Word, Jesus Christ, the more clearly we will know what our words should be. We are to model the Example of all examples.

Secondly, Paul instructs us that we are to be an example in conversation. The historical meaning of "conversation" was "living of life." We would say today "in your walk." Parents and teachers, do you desire respect? Do you want to avoid being despised? Then be an example in your talk and walk. Around the hem of the Old Testament high priest’s blue coat were sewn golden bells and pomegranates in an alternating manner. Bells were rung to announce special events - to testify. Pomegranates were the first fruits in Canaan - they typified fruitfulness. Whenever the high priest moved you would see the colorful pomegranates swinging and you would hear the bells ringing. In each step the high priest made, fruits could be seen and bells of testimony could be heard. It was not one or the other; it was both. In your life, is the testimony of your talk balanced with the fruitfulness of your walk’? "Be thou an example ...in word, in conversation."

Thirdly, model charity. "Agape" love; one-sided, gracious love. Parents and teachers, we are called to model something of God’s forgiving love to His children. Even when God chastens His children (and He does), do they not know His undying love for them’! Experiencing God’s love to be undeserved, unfailing and unchangeable produces deep reverence in the hearts of God’s children. The application of this gracious love, that they cannot sin themselves out of God’s love, that His love runs deeper than their sin, does this not melt their hearts before the LORD’? Parents, do your children feel something of this from you." Teachers, even when you must firmly discipline, do your students know your love and concern for them remains unmoved." "Be thou an example in charity’?"

Fourthly, be an example in spirit. Our modeling must be from the heart. Our example-setting must he sincere. If not, it produces a hypocritical stink rather than a sweet odor of uprightness. Children and students will despise hypocritical testimony. "Be thou an example in spirit."

Fifthly model faith. If you do not want your children and students to despise you and the Christian faith, then do not despise God. The power of a parent’s example of believing in God, especially in times of trial, has influenced the lives of many children. The faith of a teacher has touched many a student. "Be thou an example in faith."

Lastly, model purity. Do not despise the heart of God’s commands. Live, by God’s grace, a life of purity. A dirtied garment is despised by others. Keep your garment white. "Be thou an example in purity."

Parents and teachers, who of us model these six traits perfectly or consistently? May the knowledge of our lack direct us to the perfect High Priest. May our emptiness encourage us to seek Christ’s fullness. May our inconsistencies lead us to the consistent Savior, to find in Jesus Christ all we stand in need of. Only then can we "be an example of the believers."

What example are you setting as a parent’? What are you modeling as a teacher’?