day actually matters, that someone cares
and is interested.
For just a moment, imagine a scene with
the great Green Bay Packers’ coach Vince
Lombardi. Imagine that his young quarterback has just come off the field after a
difficult game. Sagging in a chair in Coach
Lombardi’s office, the young quarterback
asks, “What do you think coach? Did you
see anything in my mechanics that caused
those two interceptions? Is there any better
sort of pass rush protection we can implement on the left side of the line to protect
me against sacks? Did you think I led the
receiver too much on that down-and-out
pattern on third and ten?”
Now imagine Vince Lombardi
responding: “I don’t know, son. I really
wasn’t paying any attention. You say you had
some interceptions and sacks today? I was
reading the paper during most of the game
and really wasn’t particularly interested in
what was going on out there on the field.”
That’s the impression we give our children when they work hard for five or six
hours during the day and we pay no attention to what they’ve accomplished. We’re
too busy with the computer or watching
television to notice their accomplishments
or to encourage them in their struggles.
When we stop our children, look at their
work, and then listen to them tell us about
their experience, we speak volumes about
their value—and the value of the work
they’re doing each day.
Your wife and children are doing important jobs. It’s up to us to act like it. We have
the power to demonstrate how important
their efforts are. Or we can give them the
impression that what they’re doing is really
foolishness and nonsense. Even if we don’t
speak a word, they know whether we think
their efforts have been important by
whether or not we’re interested.
The very next verse after Jesus talks
about leaders becoming the servant of all
the Bible says, “And he took a child, and
set him in the midst of them: and when he
had taken him in his arms, he said unto
them, Whosoever shall receive one of such
children in my name, receiveth me.” (Mark
When we take time to stop, look, and
listen to the works and the words of our children, we are serving Jesus. It’s that simple.
Many of us can talk great spiritual talk
about leadership, the father’s role in establishing Godly authority in our family, etc.
But if we’re not willing to sit down and
look at our 6-year-old’s drawings and
commiserate with him about his struggles
with reading today, we have denied the
very Lord we claim to serve.
Our wives and our children need more
than just our checkbooks and our authoritarian decisions about whether or not we’re
going to have television in our home. They
need our time, our attention, our interest,
our patience, and our love. They need to
know that the
today while we
were away from
the house really
that the tears
and the struggles
over spelling were worth it—that you’re
interested and that you care.
And they need one more thing. They
need an example to follow.
In 1 Corinthians 11: 1, the apostle Paul
encourages us, “Be ye followers of me,
even as I also am of Christ.”
For better or worse, our children imitate
us. They watch us closely and they are
natural mimics. Have you ever watched
your son pretending to shave with a
shrunken bar of soap? He’ll twist his mouth
to one side as he scrapes his coarse
“whiskers” on the side of his chin—just the
way he’s watched you do it in the bathroom.
If we want our children to grow up to
become the men and women God wants
them to become, then we have an important role. Each of us needs to become the
man God wants us to become—because
our children are watching. By watching us,
our children learn how a husband should
treat a wife. They learn how a wife should
expect to be treated. They learn how to
handle success and how to handle adversity. They learn how to handle finances and
how to handle friendships. They learn how
to handle popularity and how to handle
loneliness. They’ll learn far more from
watching us than they’ll learn out of any of
those expensive books we bought for them
at the homeschool convention this year.
And the lessons they’ll learn from
watching us are the most important lessons
they’ll ever learn.
They can probably get along reasonably
well in life even if they don’t know how to
diagram a sentence. But we’ve done them
a grave disservice if we haven’t taught
them how to apologize when they’ve been
wrong. Those kinds of lessons are almost
always caught—seldom taught.
Your children are watching how you live
your life more than they’re listening to
what you tell them about how to live their
You see, your children are playing the
“stop, look, and listen” game too.
They’re stopping their games and stopping their conversations to watch you and
listen to you when you’re least aware of it:
while you’re talking to your mother-in-law
on the phone, while you’re discussing your
tax return with your wife, and while you’re
communicating with the driver who just
cut you off in traffic.
They’re watching you read your
They’re listening to you pray—or not.
They’re learning about how to conduct
themselves by watching how you conduct
So there you are. It’s that simple. And
it’s that difficult.
If you want to master the “ninety
percent of homeschooling fatherhood
that’s half mental,” you’ll take the time to
stop what you’re doing and look into your
wife’s eyes and then listen attentively as
she tells you about her day.
You’ll stop each of your children and
look at each day’s homeschool efforts
and then listen as they tell you about
And you’ll learn to lead by example by
becoming the servant God wants you to
Steve Lambert and his wife Jane began
homeschooling in 1982. Today Steve’s children are out of college, married, and
homeschooling their own families. Steve is
the publisher of the award-winning homeschool curriculum, Five in a Row
( www.fiveinarow.com), and he is a
popular keynote speaker at state homeschool conventions. He and his wife Jane
are also co-founders of Real Life
Marriages, a series of marriage retreats
aimed specifically at homeschool couples