I grew up in a family of smokers. Dad was a Camel man who eventually switched to Winston. Mom smokes whatever is cheapest now, but I remember her smoking the True brand for the longest time. Grandma smoked Carlton, Aunt Laurie Marlboro and Aunt Babs smoked Eve Lights. I wondered the other day, why on earth is this one fact, each person's preferred smoke, cemented so firmly in my head?
I think the answer to that question has something to do with consistency. Take my dad, for example. He and I shared 22 years worth of experiences with each other. The number of conversations we have shared is countless. In some of those talks, he advised me to never start smoking, because once you do, it's very hard to quit. Yet, what I can remember even more clearly is that pack of cigarettes that was always in his front shirt pocket, how he could work on a car or bait a fish hook using both hands while his cigarette dangled from the corner of his mouth. Eyes squinting because of the sting, he could even talk out of the other corner of his mouth at the same time.
So, it's probably no surprise that when I was a teenager I picked up the habit as well. Thankfully, I eventually quit. But, the message here is, despite the warnings about smoking that each one of these family members gave me, what they did made a much deeper impression on me than what they said.
With this in mind, I think it's very important that we ask ourselves what it is that we do that is so regular, so consistent that the impression we create in our children is deeper than the impact of our words. Obviously, we'll never be perfect, not even close. But it is helpful for our children to hear us admit our shortcomings and to see our attempts at improvement.
Let's pray that God will help us to see and eliminate behaviors that could be making an unhealthy impression. Also, ask Him to make clear the things we are doing that have a positive impact. Finally, let's ask God to help us lead our children by example, with words and actions that match.