In difficult situations with our teenagers, a humble example is a powerful tool that breaks down barriers. A humble spirit helps us get behind the walls our teenagers may erect. It’s a doorway into their hearts, no matter how hard they have become.
From the time our children were old enough to communicate, C.J. and I asked them regularly, “If there is one thing about Daddy and mommy you could change, what would it be?” Often they said silly things like, “Give us more ice cream.” But occasionally their comments provided valuable insights into our deficiencies as parents. And although the phrasing matured over the years, we never stopped asking the question.
Why not ask your teenager the same question before the week comes to the close?
Only after we humble ourselves can we encourage our children to follow our example. Comments like “Why don’t you do what I say?” or “When will you ever learn?” will not promote godliness in our teens. But our humility will soften their hearts and inspire them to imitate our example.
And we must not hesitate to encourage them to follow our example (if it is indeed a humble, godly one!). Many parents consider that to be prideful. They simply hope their quiet example will produce the intended effect.
By the grace of God, it may. But we would be wise to emulate the apostle Paul’s more aggressive approach. In humility, he encouraged the believers to follow his example as he followed Christ. He exhorted them in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” And again in Philippians 3:17: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
So let’s take our teenagers by the hand and say, “Come, follow me in to the riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”