My name is Audria Torian and I am a military spouse and mom to four rambunctious children, ranging in age from 14 to 2! Although I am a stay-at-home mom, I rarely seem to stay at home. I have had the privilege to watch my children grow and mature right before my very eyes . Over the years, I feel as if God speaks to me most clearly through them. Sometimes I have listened and sometimes I have stubbornly closed my ears! Through them, I have received a glimpse of the depth of God’s love for me.
The past year or so, I have been looking at some of the things that we say as parents or have heard as children growing up. Some of these things parents say in an effort to help their children but upon further inspection, they are really misguiding them. You’ve heard some of them: “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you!” or “Children should be seen and not heard!” and my personal favorite, “Don’t do as I do. Do as I say!” I’ve already taken a closer look at sticks and stones a while back. Today I want to focus on “Don’t do as I do. Do as I say!” What does God’s Word say about it? What message do our kids get from it?
As Christians, we are called to a higher standard, to be examples to those we encounter. We are walking testaments to the power of the Father in our lives. What does our life say about us? When we speak, do our words ring true because our lives back them up? Or do our words ring hollow, falling on deaf ears because our actions have spoken more loudly?
Our children are our most receptive audience and are taking in everything we say and do. To say to them to do as we say when our behaviors tell them something else is to simply waste our breath. There have been times when I was sure that my kids were not paying attention to a conversation that I was having with someone else, only to find out days later that they had heard every word! Amazing how they can’t hear me telling them to clean their rooms but can hear every word in a phone conversation! So I’ve learned to be conscious of what I talk about and how I talk to others. Titus 2:7 states “In everything set them an example by doing what is good and in your teaching show integrity, seriousness” (NIV). Paul even encouraged Timothy to not let other, more seasoned people look down on him because of his age but to “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”. One time I listened as my then nine-year old daughter spoke to her dad and was furious with the tone with which she spoke to him. As soon as I was about to read her the riot act, I heard clearly in my spirit the question “Where do you think she got that from?” Talk about getting stopped cold! I had to apologize to her and to my husband because I knew that she had heard me speak to her father that way and thought that it was okay since I had done it. We are called to be examples so that we don’t cause someone else to stumble and so that we can draw people to Christ! Who should we walk more upright before than our children, those that God entrusted to us?
Jesus said that “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Our children are the fruit of our actions and behaviors! What we have done or have not done helps to create their story, shaping their view of us and of God. Would you want to serve a God who says it’s okay for your parents to curse because they are adults but not for you because you are a child? We must be the example that guides them, leads them, strengthens them so that in times of tests and trials, they can withstand the fiery darts that the Enemy is bound to direct at them. To do that, we have to be sure to stay deep in His Word, hiding it in our hearts. But our children are not the only ones who learn from our example. To those of us who have accepted Christ, there are children of the faith that look to us for guidance and direction. We should be able to say “Do as I do AS I follow Christ!”
Audria Torian is a military wife married to Joseph Torian for 15 years and have 4 kids: JT (14), Autumn (10), Josiah (4) and Amaris (2). Being able to stay at home with her kids has been the greatest privilege and one of her greatest joys! She attends Second Calvary Baptist Church in Norfolk, VA where she continues to study the Word of God and listens for His voice to lead her.