436 | The Power of Your Example (Sean Allen)

436 | The Power of Your Example (Sean Allen)

Show Notes:

One thing that parents are very good at? Telling their children what to do. One thing they're not so good at? Showing them what to do. As influential as our words can be, they pale in comparison to the incredible power of example in the lives of our children. Our job is not only to instruct them but show them how to live a life of service to God and their fellow man.

About Sean

Sean Allen is the founder of The Well Ordered Homeschool, husband to his beautiful bride Caroline and a proud father of eight. He has a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design and is passionate about creating materials to assist parents in the incredibly challenging, yet surpassingly beautiful, work of schooling and training their children at home.


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Show Transcript:

Sean Allen Hello. Welcome to the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Sean Allen and I am one of the many hosts here on the podcast. Since you're listening to this, I'm guessing you already know that homeschooling is both incredibly challenging and incredibly beautiful. Every week we're here doing a little guidance, some helpful counsel, and a whole lot of encouragement your way as you navigate this busy, yet blessed journey of educating your children at home. Now, even though the show is called Homeschool Solutions, it should come as no surprise to you that we do not have the answer to every homeschool related question. But if you come away with nothing else, our hope is that today's episode will point you to Jesus Christ and that you will seek His counsel as you train your children in the way they should go.

Here's a riddle for you parents: Homeschoolers love them, enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? It's the Tuttle Twins books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins helps you teach your kids about entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, the Golden Rule, and more. Get a discounted set of books with free workbooks—that's right, free workbooks—today at TuttleTwins.com/homeschool. That's TuttleTwins.com/homeschool. And now on to today's show.

Welcome, welcome everyone to the podcast. Thank you for joining me today. I'm happy to be able to talk with you all again, and I hope that you're doing well. It's unbelievable to think that, you know, before you know it, the summer is going to be over. It is also unbelievable to think that we are nearing our last GHC convention here in just about a week's time. I cannot believe that. It's just... It seems like last week I was talking to you about the convention season kicking off, and now it's just about over. We will be at a few other events later in other places across the country, but our last GHC convention will be in round Rock, Texas, at the Kalahari, which is just an incredible place. We enjoy going there every year. They have this huge indoor waterpark. Sometimes we make it there and sometimes we don't. I think we're going to make an effort to be there because we're going to bring some children who haven't been to the waterpark yet, and so they are very much looking forward to it.

Before we get to that though, on the 4th of July, my family, we host a giant 4th of July celebration out at what was my grandfather's property. He passed away here about two months ago. Very good man. I just can't say enough about him. I'm not going to go into all of that, but very thankful for him. But we have hosted this event at his property for the past... This will be 19 years that we've done this. And so, yeah, we just had one child when we started thinking about this. One child. The rest of my children, they were not here when we started this. It started with just two families. Actually the first year, I think it was just my family and my brother's family. And then the year after that, we invited a few family friends. Like, I think a couple of other families. And then it just grew from there. We had added, you know, maybe 2 or 3 more families the year after that, and now it's up to like over 200 people that come to this, which, you know, compared to some events is small but to us it's very large. And we have a service in the morning, we have a program, we have singing, we have instrumental music. We have a skit, we have a historical skit every year and we have what we call the Landmark Lecture. It is something that we put on every year and we invite someone to come and speak to us, and this year we are focusing on a little known incident in American history called the Powder Alarm. And if you don't know what that is, you should look it up. It's very interesting. It took place in 1774. I think that's correct, and we're leading up to the 250th anniversary in just two years time, and so we're trying to go at this chronologically. But the very interesting thing about the Powder Alarm is, is that there was a lot of misinformation being spread about that time, and it confused a lot of the colonists. And it about sparked off the American Revolution a year early. But, nevertheless, very interesting incident. I'm going on too long about this. That is something else that we're gearing up for. I've still got so much to do for that. There's a lot to do. And a lot of costumes, a lot of games, a lot of food. There's just a lot going on. And then again, the few days after that, we leave for Texas. I'm sure I'm missing some things, but anyway, that's an update on where we're at. I hope that you're doing well, too. I'm sure that you're very busy. Summer is a very busy time, very exciting time. And it's very wet and hot in Missouri here lately. I don't know how it is in your neck of the woods, but it's just very humid. We went out to California, and it's just beautiful out there. The weather is beautiful, mild. The heat is different, like I told Caroline the sun is more intense, but the heat is drier. And when you get to Missouri, it's like the heat out west — this is a midwesterner talking to you here. I don't know how you all feel about it — but the heat out west is like direct from above. It's hitting you from above. The heat in the Midwest is all around you. It's just like hugging you.

So, anyway, a little different, but we should get on to today's topic, and that is I'm going to try to urge you in your homeschool and in your day to day interactions with your children, to be more proactive at showing them what you want them to do. Okay? It's not just about telling them, you need to show them. It's very important that you show them. Very, very, very important. We live in a world where there's a lot of talk. Talk is cheap. We say all kinds of things, oftentimes, that we do not mean. We proclaim all kinds of allegiances and loyalties, and this is the kind of person that we are, and if we were ever given the opportunity, we would do this and we would do that. And a lot of times it's just cheap and I'm including myself in that. It's not just other people, it's us. We're prone to this. And there's a lot of words that are wasted. You know, there's a lot of air that is just wasted because it's not genuine. It's not sincere. And so when it comes to our children, we say a lot of things that we don't necessarily mean. Particularly when it comes time to correct them. When it comes time to call them out on something and we want to get across to them this point that this was wrong and I don't want you to do this anymore and these are the very real, natural consequences that can arise out of this action or this behavior, and so therefore, there must be a punishment. And, you know, depending on how angry we are or depending on what kind of mood we're in that day, you know, the punishment could be quite severe and we could say things that are just absolutely just crazy. Just crazy. They have no basis in reality and they're not even equal to the crime. They're more of a reflection of what's going on in our lives than they are what's going on in the life of our child. Do you follow me?

So the punishment really has little to do, or not a whole lot to do with what they did. It has more to do with what's going on inside of us. And so, you think about it and the punishment that we have handed out or the consequence that we have doled out to our child is really more of a reactionary thing on our part, and it stems from a lot of stress, a lot of strain, a lot of frustration, a lot of maybe weariness or, you know, lack of sleep or, who knows... Just not feeling quite well that day or just, you know, mounting frustrations over time with regards to this one particular child on this one particular issue. And so all of this combined, you know, converges into one singular moment, and then out it comes, "I ban you from ever going outside again." "I forbid you to ever eat ice cream again." "I forbid you to..." You know, whatever. It's just something crazy like, "You will never see the light of day again." You know, something crazy that you're not going to follow through with. And so when those moments arise, the message that you said to your child, maybe not immediately, but over time they're going to catch on to it, is that you don't really mean what you're saying, that the word that you have spoken is not consistent with the true intent of your heart. And that is a very problematic thing. More problematic than probably what I'm capable of describing it over the course of the next 15 or 20 minutes. It's certainly problematic because (and I don't want to go too far into this) but your job, particularly when your children are young, is that you're building a storehouse of trust in your home or in their hearts or in your hearts or wherever it's located. I can't precisely say. It's probably in multiple locations, but you're building that storehouse of trust. Why are you building this storehouse of trust? Because you're going to want to draw from the store that is in the storehouse later in life, particularly when your children are 13, 14, 15 and up. Okay? Because they're going to come to you with situations that are going to scare the living daylights out of you, that you were not prepared to deal with, and it's literally going to happen overnight. It's going to stun you how swiftly it's going to swoop into your life unexpectedly. And you thought, whoa, we're talking about this now? Just yesterday, I thought, that was my little boy, that was my little girl, and now we're here. Okay. All right. And you want them to trust you. Why do you need that trust? Because if they don't trust you, they're not going to open up. They're not going to divulge to you the things that are going on in their hearts. And you need to know what's going on in their hearts. How could you address them if you don't? How could you know what's going on in their hearts if they don't willingly, again, divulge that information to you? If they don't trust you, they won't divulge it. So if you go through the early preteen years saying what you don't mean and meaning what you don't say, then there's a lack of trust there. And you've got work to do. Okay?

So meaning what you say and saying what you mean is very important. It doesn't just apply to consequences and punishments, it applies to just about everything else. When you tell them, "We're going to go on a bike ride tomorrow," and you don't end up doing it, something comes up, something always comes up. You know, if that's the case in your household, then obviously there's a trust issue there. And you are telling them lots of things, but you're not showing them much. And so, they'll learn this very quickly — that talk is cheap, and in your case, it doesn't really mean much of anything. Sometimes you actually follow through and oftentimes you do not. And so they don't really know... That's almost as bad as never following through with anything that you say because again, it's uncertain. There's no guarantees. They don't really know when you're going to follow through and when you're not going to follow through. It's a surprise every time and so they might as well just... Instead of letting themselves get hurt over and over and over again, they're just going to assume that you don't really mean what you say. And that's a terrible thing. That's just a terrible thing.

But this certainly also applies to your desire and your attempts at helping them to foster good character qualities, or fostering good character qualities in their lives. You can't just tell them, you have to show them. And so if you're concerned about lying with your child, are you bending the truth around them? Do they see you in situations where you are not telling the whole truth, or that you are manipulating the truths to benefit yourself, or to make a situation a little more favorable for you or, you know, possibly to hurt someone? They see you or observe you talking to your peers and you are manipulating a story in a way that reflects more favorably on yourself when they know that that's not exactly how it took place. Are you embellishing things in their presence? Or you just out-and-out lying. You see, what are you showing them? In those cases, it does not matter what you tell them. It does not matter. Does it absolutely matter nothing at all? No, I can't say that because if you're telling "them lying is bad," well, that's truth, and you're hoping that some portion of that truth will lodge itself in their hearts. But nevertheless, if you're not showing them, you can almost just forget it.

You cannot underestimate the power of example. It is unspeakably powerful. I'm confident in saying that because God didn't just tell us things, he showed us. And that is what made the life of Jesus Christ the most powerful, memorable, durable, long lasting, attention arresting, life that has ever been lived. That account is something that has gripped untold numbers of people for as long as the world has ever been around, however long that is. That's something that is just so powerful, and it's powerful because he didn't just tell us, he showed us. And when you show somebody something, that's when you're serious about it. Like, you could tell people you're a Christian. "I follow Jesus Christ." People are like, "Well, that's nice," but the thing that's really going to drive that home is when you show them. And you don't show them so that you can boast about it or that you can get pats on the back or that you can, you know, get all kinds of praise of the world and things like that. That's not why you show people. They can pick that up on you, by the way. They know what's real and what's not real. They know if it's a show, if it's simply for the purpose of show or if it's really deep down in your heart. And when it's genuine and when it's sincere, you could probably get away with not saying anything, in many cases. You don't have to tell them that you're a Christian. They could just see that, or they could just presume that you are, or that they'll come up to you and they'll ask you. Like your actions in your life are so attractive that they're going to be drawn to you and they're going to be like, "You know what? I've got to know when the world makes you so different." And that's your opportunity now to tell them, but the showing came before the telling.

And it's just that way with your children. You've got to show them. Are you worried about cruelty in your children? Are you cruel to people? Do your children catch you standing around talking bad about people behind their backs? People that you go to church with, family members, people that you associate with at work. You come home from work every day (and this is for a lot of the men out there) and just badmouthing everybody all of the time? But then when your child decides to say a mean word or two, oh, you just cloud up and rain on that, don't you? So what are you showing them? They saw that in you. And we don't pick up on that because you know what? We vouch for ourselves. In the arena or, I suppose I should say, in the courtroom of our heart, we are very consistent in standing there and defending ourselves. We'll take up our case and we tell ourselves, "You know what? Maybe this isn't right, but there's a reason, and I know the reason and it's okay." We don't give those same allowances to other people because you don't know the reasons in their case, and you just assume the worst in their case or with your child. You know, why they hit someone or why they said a mean thing about so-and-so. Well, you don't necessarily know the reasons, do you? Because you perhaps have not taken the pains to discover why it was that your child did what he did, even though it was cruel or inappropriate. You know, why did they do that? Now again, you like to vouch for yourself. You have your reasons, don't you? When you make mistakes. And so you let yourself off easy, often times. But not with our children, not with people that are around us. We don't let them off easy. It's therapeutic for us to assume that everybody else does not have a justifiable reason as to why they're behaving the way that they are. But we, on the other hand, we know and God knows, and we know that God knows, and so that makes it okay. Well, it's not okay for your children. If they're sitting around listening to you talk bad about other people behind their backs... Well guess what? Is it any wonder that your children are often found criticizing other people, or they're so quick to criticize? You know, what are you showing them?

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If you love them, you'll show them. That's really the crux of the matter. And that's precisely what you'll find in the Bible, is that the father loveth the son. And he showeth with him all the things that he himself does. And I've just butchered that badly. But because he loves him, he showed his son the manner in which he lives and of his character and of his holiness, and he shows him the things that he does so that Christ may do likewise. And he lives the life of his father. And should we be living any differently? If we love our children, we will show them. We'd be very diligent in showing them, because that is the power of example. And really, I dare to say that it is a far greater power than anything that you're telling them. But it's easier to tell them, isn't it? It's easier to tell them and to assume that they understand what you're saying, the words that are coming out of your mouth, and then to move on with your life, as opposed to really making an effort to come down to their level, to come beside them, come alongside them and to really show them. And this applies to everything from cleaning their room to being a kind human being or to being diligent in their work. In doing a thorough job with their work and so on and so forth. You have to show them. They have to see this. And this is exponentially more important for the homeschool parent because you're around them all the time. And so there's a much greater opportunity that you will stumble and that you will fail and that they will see poor examples. That is true and that is why it behooves us to be on our best behavior at all times, if at all possible. Now we're going to fail, we're going to stumble, and our children are going to see that, but that's another power of example: that you have an opportunity to show to them is when you make mistakes and you get to say, "I'm sorry. And I made a mistake there that was wrong, and I'm going to repent of that." And that is a very powerful show there as well.

Particularly as your children age, they're going to pick up on the fact that you're not as perfect as what they once thought. There was a time when they thought you could do no wrong. And I remember early on when I told my children, like, "You know, mom and dad, we sin too," and you could just see the look on their faces like, you've got... No, no way. It's not possible. Please, what are you saying? I think they thought that there was an age at which, you know, when you arrived at that age, you no longer sinned. And we tried to explain to them like, "No, we sin often. We're prone to sin. And we try to recognize that sin for what it is and try to examine where it came from and why we're prone to those particular failings and what can we do to make it right. And by God's grace that we might be reformed." And this was something that I think really struck them. And so it's not the end of the world when they say you fail. Now, if they see you fail and you don't apologize... Well then again, that's going to make it very difficult for them to want to turn around to apologize to you or to whoever it might be, when they fail. So they need to see this example.

We are often telling them how to think about things. You know, we're often telling them, "you should have never done this and here's why." Really, what's more important than telling the how to think is to tell them what to think. And I know this is very unpopular. This is a very unpopular thing here, particularly in modern society, because they're all about teaching people how to think, how to view the world, when in reality, you need to tell them what to think about the world. Particularly when they're younger. And what I mean by that is that you have to equip them with the proper set of facts before they can ever make an informed decision about what those facts mean. And a lot of people are getting the cart before the horse when they're saying, "Well, this is how you think about things, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." Well, they don't even have their facts in the proper order. So what are you telling your children about, you know, biology? And what are you telling your children about history? Very important, by the way. You know, this is the Civil War. This is why the Civil War was fought. These are the people who were involved in the Civil War. The Civil War took place during this time period in this location. These were the battles that were fought. On and on and on. Those are very important things. You need to teach them what to think, and then they will learn how to think.

They need the pieces of the puzzle before they can construct the puzzle, I guess, is what I'm saying. And as you do that and as you lead by example, they have a better framework from which they can interpret the world. Now again, a lot of modernists are going to look at that and they're going to cry foul like, "No, you can't do that. You've got to give your child an opportunity to choose." And we are giving them an opportunity to choose but when they're young, they can't adequately process all of the information that's contained in the world or that they're being bombarded with on a daily basis. They can't adequately process that. So somebody has to come along and help them, which is precisely what modernists do as well. They do that as well. They're coming alongside the child and they're equipping them to be able to interpret the things that they see. We just tend to disagree with their interpretations. And so everybody is doing this. It's just that... I think that we get called out more often because our views on the world are largely very unpopular. You know, a Christian viewpoint on the world has long since fallen out of vogue.

And so when you stand before your child and when you live your life before them — in your homeschool, you know, we've talked about this a lot — how attractive or how appealing is your homeschool? When they see you teaching them day in and day out, initially, they're not going to make sense of it. As they grow older, it's going to start to dawn on them, like, wow, mom has given a lot of her time to me. And I'm beginning to see just how busy she really is. I think I am busy. I've got this report to write and I've got instrument practice, and I've got, you know, this responsibility at church or whatever. I've got these three or four things and I feel like I'm burned down. But then I look at my mom over there and I realize she has 10 times, 20 times, 100 times more responsibility than what I do. And look at how she patiently goes about her day and with joy, teaches us day after day after day. Does she have struggles? Yes. Does she have bad days? Yes. I see that, but I'm so thankful that she finds a way to push through. And as they get older, that's going to become more and more clear to them. That's the power of example. And so you're not just telling them, you're showing them. And that will have a far more profound effect on their life than you just berating them with your words all of the time. And if you're berating them with words and doing the exact opposite of what you're saying, you can forget it. Your children will resent that, and you are likely to see them wandering down some errant path that you would have never chosen for them, and that is utterly terrifying you to see, and you're wondering where that all ends, and it doesn't end anywhere good. And that is because you spent more time talking than you did showing.

And you really need to examine this in your life. You know, you think, I'm a pretty good person. You know, we're homeschooling here, and we go to church every Sunday, and we do all of these things, but it's the little things. And your children will pick up on them in very... What do I want to say? It's very specific ways that you would not have imagined. And again, because we are so gentle with ourselves and the way in which we live our lives, we often miss these things, but our children pick up on them because they're viewing us through a different lens, and they realize, you know what? My dad, he's not always terribly honest. He talks to me a lot about honesty, and when I lie to him, he loses his mind. But I've noticed that my dad is not all that honest all the time. I've seen it. Or he can be cruel, or he can be lazy, or he can be whatever. And yet, when it comes to me being lazy, he places a premium on me, constantly finding something to do and being useful, being resourceful and whatnot. But my dad is actually kind of lazy. And you know what? You know what that tells me? I mean, he's made it this far being lazy. When I leave this house, I want to give that a go. I can't now because, you know, I get my ears clapped back every time that I do, but I'm going to give this a try because the only reason why I'm not lazy is because I'm, quite frankly, I'm intimidated by him.

You've got to show them, folks. It's important. You've got to show them, and that means you've got to come down to their level. And that's not easy. It's not easy. You know, we're done being 8 and 12 and 16. You know, we're done with that. I'm quite happy that I'm not in high school anymore. I'm very happy that I'm not in college anymore. I'm glad that those days are over. Are there some things that I would like to revisit in those days and maybe take another whack at it? Absolutely. There is absolutely. I would love to do that. But in other ways, I'm glad that it's over. And when I have an opportunity to try to pretend like I'm 18 again, well, first of all, it's not going very well anymore. And second of all, it's not all that appealing. It's not all that appealing. Nevertheless, for the sake of my children, I'll do the best that I can. And that doesn't mean that I'm going to get, you know, I'm going to become suddenly well versed in all these TikTok dances and all that stuff, no. I've probably even said that in a way that would make my children cringe. Not that they're into TikTok dances, but, you know what I mean. They just have their own... we had it when we were their age, and they've got it now too. They got a certain way of talking and communicating and I'm just not... I'm not going to say I'm not with it because that's probably very dated as well. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say. But they're not around and they're probably not listening to this. So you know what I'm saying. You know what I'm saying.

But nevertheless, we have to go where they are, whether they're three or they're six, or they're 10 or 15 or whatever it is, we have to go where they are. That's what Christ did for us. It wasn't easy. It was excruciating for him. I still don't understand how he did it, but nevertheless, he did do it. And he's not asking for us to do anything remotely as difficult as that. As difficult as it may be, it's not as remotely as difficult as what he had to do for us. So we have to go where they are. We have to show them a better way. We need to come alongside them with care and compassion and patience. And we're not going to have to just show them once, we have to show them over and over and over and over and over and over again. I'm going to cut it off there. But there's about 100 more overs that I could have added to that line. You know what? Many of your parents did that for you too, and look where you are now. And so it's worth it. It's very worth it to sacrifice our time for them and to show them by example, by good example, so that they can look back and they can say, "I had good parents, I had a good mother, I had a good father, and I'm so thankful for them. I don't know where I would be without them." And you just can't underestimate that power of example. So I'm going to leave off with that for now. And I hope that this has been helpful or maybe just a gentle reminder for us to maybe improve our example, to be more mindful of not just what our children hear, but what they see from our lives and also the people that are around us, and that they can go out of our home and also lead by example in this world, because God knows this world needs better examples than what it's currently enduring. So thank you very much for your time and attention. God bless you all and I look forward to talking to you again very soon.

Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. You can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.mom. Don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve health care you can trust. To learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medi-Share. That's GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medi-Share. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @homeschooling.mom to let us know what you thought of today's episode. Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the Homeschooling events of the year offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topic, and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the US. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I'll be there. I hope to see you there too.

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