Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Kidology Theorem #26

Several years ago I was serving at a major children’s ministry conference, and as a speaker/exhibitor, I had the opportunity to give out some drawing slips for some really cool prizes the conference was giving away to its attendees. We could give them out any way we wanted, but were encouraged to make it fun. Oh, the things kids pastors would do to get these drawing slips! One fellow came back to our booth seeking another drawing slip and since he had already played our silly game, I decided to go easy on him. He was wearing a t-shirt with a Bible verse on it, so I said, “Close your eyes and tell me the verse on your shirt.” He admitted he had just bought the shirt so he didn’t know the verse. Fair enough, so trying to keep it easy I said, “That’s fine, just quote me John 3:16.” I could tell by the look on his face he had no idea what I was talking about. My intention wasn’t to embarrass him, so I hinted, “For God so loved the world…” His awkward blank expression continued. Now I felt bad, so trying to help him save face I said, “No worries, just quote me any verse from the Bible.” He was unable to. I gave him the drawing slip with a gentle encouragement that he needed to start learning the Word of God if he wanted to be passing it along to the kids entrusted to him.

I’ve come to discover he wasn’t a rare leader. We can easily discuss the many reasons for a lack of biblical literacy among today’s church leaders – and it’s true of youth, worship, and even lead pastors today – but the fact remains: we can’t teach others if we aren’t training ourselves to “rightly divide the Word of God.”

My challenge is simple: Whatever you ask of your students, do it yourself first. Be a student of the Word of God first and foremost and a teacher second. Whatever you ask kids to memorize, you memorize first. Whatever challenge you give them for the week, you undertake it as well. Your kids should see you quoting verses without looking at any print or screen. And yes, I believe you should know the Books of the Bible. I don’t care if your lead pastor doesn’t; every kid’s teacher should and ought to be able to demonstrate it to their students. The Bible is not an app. It is the living Word of God and worthy of knowing your way around it.

Why is this important? Won’t kids learn the things you ask without you learning it, too? Of course they will. But the unspoken lesson you teach them is that someday they will outgrow the need for God and Scripture, just as you apparently have. If you want them to have a love for God and His Word for all of their lives, they need to see that in you.

After all, don’t we know that our ACTIONS speak louder than our WORDS? Perhaps you’ve heard it said, I can’t hear you over your example.”

Discover more Kidology Theorems in the Kidology Theorems Zone

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