How many times have you heard a parent say “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” whether on television or in real life? Probably many more times than you can count on our fingers and toes at least. Now the likely intent of such a statement is to drive home the truly important words a parent is saying to their child, knowing the typical response from that child to the parent’s command will be something along the lines of “Why can’t I (fill in the blank) because you do it.” Rather than take that little bit of criticism/wisdom to heart, parents shell out the “Do as I say, not as I do” phrase left and right, failing to realize the sheer hypocrisy that is subsumed in such a statement.

So why is doling out such a statement truly an epic fail as a parent? After all, are not children supposed to obey their parents which assuredly means that when we declare a command it should be followed, regardless if in our own lives we are demonstrating a poor example by succumbing to the very wrong behavior we exhort our kids to avoid? Surely that is not the case, is it? Unfortunately, that is the case. While children are to obey their parents, as parents, we are called by God to be godly and wise parents, instructing our children in the ways of the Lord. What better way to instruct your child in the ways of God than by actually setting the visible example of godly, righteous, and holy behavior.

If you are unsure as to what godly, righteous, and holy behavior and parenting looks like, the Bible is the place to look. There is no shortage of passages on this topic. For example, peruse the following Scriptures:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

This passage outlines that parents are to diligently teach their children the Word of God. This is more than just quoting a passage here and there when needed or reading a few passages before bedtime. What God commands of parents in these verses is to not just teach His Word verbally, but also to demonstrate what living a godly life looks like in everyday practice. God’s Word is to form the very foundation for every act we do regardless of where we find ourselves.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

This is a very familiar passage, but I am not sure many have focused on what this idea of training is all about. The Hebrew word translated train is the verb chanak, a word that has the connotation of disciplining yourself or to initiate into something. Allen Ross aptly notes, “the training should be with purpose…The way the verse has been translated shows that there is a standard of life to which he (the child) should go.”[1] The “way” is not just any old way but the way of righteousness outlined in Scripture. This means parents are to purposefully, both in word and deed, train and demonstrate this way of life to their children.

Isaiah 38:19 – A father tells his sons about Your faithfulness.

This is likely an overlooked verse when it comes to parenting. The prophet Isaiah states that a father tells his sons (or children) about the faithfulness of God. Now let’s think about this passage for a second. Scripture tells us that God is faithful to whom? The wicked or the righteous? God is faithful to the righteous. In order for a father to tell their children about God’s faithfulness, I believe a couple of important issues are necessarily in play in order for that to take place. For starters, from a historical perspective, parents need to be grounded in Scripture so they can share with their children how God has demonstrated His faithfulness to His people throughout history. Second, since God is faithful to the righteous, this demands righteousness and faithfulness to God on the part of the parent. Not perfection of course as there is none save Christ who is perfect. What this is speaking of is a parent who walks in the paths of righteousness and who in turn shares with their child both in word and deed of God’s faithfulness.

Hebrews 12:7 – It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

We observe in this passage that God disciplines those whom He loves and those who love God, in turn, appreciating and taking to heart correction. When we demonstrate an embracing of the correction God gives us, our children will better understand discipline and correction given to them in a loving yet firm manner.

There are many, many more passages we could discuss, but hopefully, you get the point. As parents, we are to show our children the example of what godly behavior is all about. If we are resistant to God’s correction, then a response to our children of “Do as I say, not as I do” will be all too easy. Conversely, if we grasp what being a godly parent is all about which is truly a lifelong process of learning, we will demonstrate to our children our love for God by embracing God’s correction and implement the truth of God’s Word in our own lives while investing in the lives of our children with the truth of God’s Word and godly correction.

So parents (myself included), make an assessment of your life. Are you demonstrating godly behavior to your children or do you honestly think that godly parenting is just repeating some Bible passages or parenting rhetoric devoid of providing a godly example? Be honest in your assessment of yourself. If you have fallen short in this area, then pray and ask forgiveness from God and from your children. Resolve through the power of the Holy Spirit to show your children what godly living is all about. Believe me…your kids are paying very close attention to everything you do and they are not shy about noting when you are being hypocritical. Let’s act like godly adults and set a needed example for our children. They deserve it and God commands it so what are we waiting for?

[1] Allen Ross. “Proverbs” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary ed. Frank Gaebelein. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 1063.

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