Show and Tell

Jimmy was so excited, this coming Friday was going to be Show and Tell day. He had been telling everyone about his pet, Ruler. He had been telling the kids how Ruler was really good at getting things for him. He told how Ruler was always there for him. He told about how well-behaved and quiet Ruler’s personality was. He told them that Ruler always paid attention when he was telling Ruler something. Jimmy told them that Ruler loved to spend time with him and was always with him every where he went. Ruler was a great companion, always there when Jimmy needed him. And now, Jimmy was finally going to get to show everyone Ruler.

Friday came and Jimmy brought in Ruler. The kids were kind of surprised because they expected Ruler to be bigger. But Jimmy only had a small carrier. Jimmy again listed Ruler’s characteristics of getting and doing things for him, always there for him, well-behaved and quiet, paying attention, spending time with him, and going everywhere he went, a great companion and friend, always there when he needed him. And then he reached in and brought Ruler out. The Kids were in SHOCK! They thought that Ruler was going to be a dog, but Ruler was a, a, CAT??? Jimmy put Ruler down on the floor. Kids were laughing now. What they were seeing was nothing like Jimmy described. Jimmy threw a ball, and Ruler laid there. Jimmy tugged on his leach and Ruler complied with Jimmy’s tugging until they reached the ball. Ruler sat down next to the ball and Jimmy said, “Good job Ruler!” Jimmy stepped away and called out to Ruler, “Come here Ruler,” and Ruler just looked at Jimmy. Jimmy again tugged on his leach and Ruler complied. The kids looked at each other with smirks, they thought to themselves, of course Ruler is well-behaved and quiet, he doesn’t DO anything! One of the little girls wanted to see Ruler close up, so she ran up to pet him. Ruler had a fit! He growled, spatted, and tried to claw her. She jumped back, and began to cry. Ruler was nothing like Jimmy had described him. One of the boys screamed, “Put him away! Get him out of here!” Jimmy didn’t understand, Ruler seemed so nice to him. Ruler had a right to react the way he did because the little girl had rushed up to him. Ruler never did that to Jimmy. Jimmy was disappointed, the kids didn’t see Ruler the way he did. He put Ruler away and was really mad the rest of the day. He was mad at the kids, because of the way they had reacted to Ruler. He was mad at the Ruler for reacting the way he had to the kids. He wished Ruler had been all that he had been telling the kids he was. He wished the kids could have seen the Ruler he knew.

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Hmmm, what do you think? Was Jimmy wrong in the way he described Ruler? Was Ruler what he described? Were the kids wrong for what they thought? The thing is this tends to be a story that happens everyday in each of our homes. Now you going, WHAT is she talking about??? I’m talking about Parents and kids. Think about it for a minute. What are some things that we tell our kids?

“I am always getting you things you want. I do this for you and that for you.” But how much do we really do FOR them? We are really just like Ruler, we have to be tugged on and drug to do things. When’s the last time we just sat down and listened to them, just stopped whatever we were doing, sat down, made eye contact with them and truly listened? That would be something FOR them. But let one of them acted like us – and look out – Ruler’s mean side comes out. Just let a kid not sit down and listen to us, let a kid not stop what they are doing and make eye contact with us, let a kid not listen to us and the claws our out! We are like Jimmy, we think of ourselves as something we are not. But when the kids see our true Ruler, they are not impressed. There’s a big difference between what we SHOW and what we TELL.

“You need to show some respect when you talk to me. Don’t raise your voice to me. Don’t slam doors and throw things.” But how many times do we really do that our selves? Think about the last time you were not happy about something. How did you react. I’m sure the Jimmy in you would like to believe that you had a quiet personality, but the Ruler in you knows the truth, and so do the kids. We punish our kids for doing exactly what we do. We are usually SCREAMMING at them not to YELL at us. And we all know we have slammed a cupboard door or two. Or what about throwing the keys down on the table? There’s a big difference between what we SHOW and what we TELL.

“You need to count to ten before you react. You need to just pray about it. Find out what God wants you to do and then do it.” But how many times do we really do that? When is the last time our kid saw us sit down and pray about something. Sure, sure, we do it in church, we do it before eating, we do it in groups, but when was the last time your kids saw you stressed out and you just stopped, sat down and said, “Lord, I can’t do this. I need your help. I need your guidance.” When is the last time WE counted to ten?? There’s a big difference between what we SHOW and what we TELL.

“You need to put God first in your life. Seek ye first the kingdom … ” Blah, blah, blah. I could give lots of examples here but how about this one. When was the last time you couldn’t wait to get to church early, or just hung around after church? Or did you need to get home because of this or that? Or how many times have you skipped church to do something else? Church isn’t God, but to kids, if they see you skipping church for this reason or that reason, then you aren’t putting God first. What about when they want to skip church? hmmm, Big difference between what we SHOW and what we TELL.

“I want all your chores done before you do anything else. No friends, not video games, no going out until all your chores are done!” But did you come home and finish your chores first? Or did you come home and hop on the computer to check your email? What did you do BEFORE you did your chores? Are you yelling at the kid because he didn’t take out the garbage before he checked his email while you are sitting at your desk? Big difference between what we SHOW and what we TELL.

“How could you just walk past that, pick it up. Don’t leave your stuff lying around all over the place.” But isn’t that the mail you just opened laying over there? Oh, and is that your bowl and cup you left sitting there last night? Stop right now and take a look around, how many things of your’s are sitting around? Oh, yeah, there might not be any. But how many of us have a little basket setting right by the door to throw our keys and stuff in when we walk through the door? Do WE have to walk all the way to our bedroom with them?  Big difference between what we SHOW and what we TELL.

“You need to learn to help our more around the house. If you see something that needs done, do it.” And then we fill up the garbage can with the newspaper and mail to where it is over flowing, so we walk to a place where the kid can hear us, and we yell their name,  “JOOOHHNNNYYY, come here!” Of course, we probably have to yell a few more time, they finally get there, and then we say, “Johnny, take that garbage out!” REALLY?? Shouldn’t we have just taken the garbage out? It wasn’t like the kid didn’t do his chore, it wasn’t full until we just filled it. Remember, “If you see something that needs done, do it.” Big difference between what we SHOW and what we TELL.

One more, “Where are your manners? Say Please or Say Thank You!” How many times do we ask our kids to do things in a polite way. When’s the last time we say, “Hey Johnny, could you please take the garbage out when you get a chance?” When’s the last time we said thank you to our kid for doing her chores? Big difference between what we SHOW and what we TELL.

I’m sure by now you can come up with your own examples. I think we as parents need to stop being Jimmy, blowing ourselves up to be something we are not. Our kids are not fooled, they see our true Ruler, they know exactly who we really are. We may fool those who don’t live with us, but we can never fool those who do.

Every single one of us parents, we do this. We forget that what we are SHOWING and what we are TELLING is different. We see ourselves as the Ruler we wish we were instead of the Ruler that we really are. But how about making a change, how about becoming the Ruler we want to be? You know, it isn’t just something that parents do, it’s something that many Christians do as well. But you know what, God knew we would do this, that is why Jesus gave us the second commandment,

The second is like it and is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. – Mark 12:31

Or when he told us,

DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. – Matthew 7:1

Or how about,

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the council and admonition of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4

And we all love this verse, however we usually use it FOR ourselves instead of AGAINST ourselves, or we are looking for the promise without fulfilling our end,

Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

I’m going to borrow the writing from another site The Principle of Nurture (Training Your Child),

In this one little verse there is a command to obey, “train up,” and a promise to claim, “and when he is old (mature) he will not depart from it.” In this we have both God’s charge and His promise to every parent. Parents need to know what this means and believe and trust in its methods. The issue, of course, is knowing what the verse says and fulfilling the command. May I suggest that this verse means far more than what immediately meets the eye and nothing at all of what most think. The verse is not talking about mere forced parental conformity. It is not saying, send your children to Sunday school or have them memorize the Ten Commandments and everything will work out. It goes much deeper than that.

The word “train” is the Hebrew chanak which, according to its usage in ancient times, had four important ideas that are instructive for understanding and illustrating God’s training corral. Obviously, the context must determine how chanak is being used in any given context, but the various uses do provide some striking suggestions and illustrations of what is involved in training.

First, chanak could mean “to dedicate.” It was used four other times in the Old Testament and in each case the primary idea is to inaugurate something through a service of dedication which usually involved sacrifice (Deut. 20:5 [twice], 1 Kings 8:63; and 2 Chron. 7:5). More will be said on this below under the aspect of a parent’s dedication to raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Second, another idea in chanak is “to throttle, make narrow, or discipline.” In Arabic, a sister language, this word was used of a rope in a horse’s mouth, like a bit in a bridal to make the animal submissive and bring it under control. This certainly illustrates how training includes the use of discipline, the application of external controls, in order to bring a child under control, which ultimately means God’s control.

Third, another idea in chanak is of that of “instruction.” How does it get this meaning? In its most fundamental meaning it meant “to initiate, start,” or “introduce someone to something or to someone.”8 From that it came to have the idea of “to train” because in instruction, we are introducing our children to God and to His Word and starting them in God’s path or way of life.

Fourth, another idea in chanak is to “initiate, create an appetite.” This source was from outside the Old Testament, but at least by way of illustration it has application to the process of training.9 The word actually meant, “palate, roof of the mouth.” Related to the basic idea of initiation was its later use in Arabic of the action of a midwife who would rub the palate of a newborn with olive oil or the oil of crushed dates in order to give a taste, to create an appetite and get the baby to suckle. Certainly, one of the necessary ingredients in training children is that of giving children a taste of the reality of God by the model or example of the parent. We can’t expect our children to be real with God if we are phonies. They pick up on our attitudes and patterns whether we like it or not. What we are is vital, indeed, even determinative to what they become.

So the next time you start to TELL, think about what you are SHOWING. If it isn’t lining up, then don’t expect the results you are looking for. When you begin to SHOW, then you won’t have to TELL.

See also,

Ten Commandments for Parents

Children and Respect


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