THE EXAMINED LIFE
I was a high school cheerleading coach for a number of years. In that time I discovered the secret to a coach’s success came in showing my squad clips of their performance during the game–a practice I learned from the football coaches.
I observed, as the football players watched the clips, what did the coach do? He slowed down the speed of the film so he could point out areas where the players needed improvement. And the good coaches, also took as much time pointing out areas to change as they did celebrating the successful plays on the field.
As moms, we can learn a lot from these coaching techniques. You may think, “I’m with my kids all day long. I see exactly what they are up to.”
While it may be true you spend a great deal of time with your kids, how much time do you spend purposefully observing the way they interact with their siblings or their friends, what motivates them, or discourages them? Or even listening to what they talk about?
In Luke 6:45 Jesus said, Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. So learning to discern the heart of your child by what they say and how they act, is the first step in helping them learn to evaluate their own motivations for their actions.
AN UNEXAMINED LIFE IS A CARELESS LIFE
Your kids will not know how to analyze their behavior unless you teach him. And if they do not learn the value of self-evaluation, they may grow up blaming others for their wrong actions–or reactions.
And since children learn best by example, you would be wise to learn to appraise yourself by discerning the reasons for your own responses to life’s circumstances.
Ask yourself, Do I blame others for my wrong actions? If the answer is yes, it’s time to take responsibility for your wrong responses, repent, and ask God to give you the strength to do better the next time.
As your children watch you practice godly self-examination, they will then learn how to discern the reasons for their responses to people and circumstances in life.
Training your child to think about why he reacts in certain ways will lay a foundation for true change.
In his book Teaching to Change Lives, Dr. Howard Hendricks observes:
“If you want to change a person permanently, make sure his thinking changes, and not merely his behavior. If you change only his behavior, he won’t understand why he’s made the change. It’s only superficial, and usually short-lived.”
To bring about lasting change, help your kids learn to regularly ask themselves, “Why did I react that way? What is the real reason for my action? What needs to change in my heart in order to change the way I respond?”
And then take the time to teach your children what the Bible says about the issues they struggle with. When you help your kids examine their hearts, and see their thoughts and actions the way God sees them, they will begin to understand why their behavior and thinking needs to change.
And by your example, you will train your children to examine themselves before the Lord, so that they can adjust their lives to obedience to Christ. We would all do well to learn to pray as the Psalmist prayed,
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
– Psalm 139:23-24