Recently, I decided to get a personal trainer and commit to exercising regularly. The pandemic had hit me hard. I am an emotional eater so I’d had a lot of splurge nights. All of it had left me feeling tired, and I knew I needed more energy to keep up with my work, my ministry schedules, and my two kids.
I also knew I needed to invest in a trainer in order to fully commit and have accountability if my plan was going to last longer than all the other times I’d tried working out. But I am not a gym person, which is crazy because I basically work in a gym as a physical therapist. I know the benefits of exercise, and I prescribe exercise to people all day long. Even though I have a doctoral degree in physical therapy, I struggle to actually exercise. I don’t make time to work out because it’s never been a natural rhythm in my everyday life.
Growing up in an Indian home, exercise was not a value. I never played sports or saw my parents make time to prioritize exercise — probably because they never saw their parents do it either.
It makes sense though. In their generation, most people in India ate fresh produce and organic meat that they raised. They also walked everywhere. However after immigrating to America, their lifestyle and food choices changed, and unfortunately, they didn’t then incorporate the measures needed to maintain good health through exercise.
Here’s what I know: What I do, the patterns of my life, the values I hold, and the rhythms I practice as a parent will directly impact the way my children will live. Knowledge isn’t enough; they need to see me live it out in order for them to desire and do it in their own lives.
God became man and dwelt among us to show us how to actually live out the commands of God. In the person of Jesus, God didn’t just come and tell us what to do; He came and showed us what to do and how to do it.
Jesus’ call to His disciples wasn’t simply to know His teachings and believe in Him. Rather, it was a call to follow Him. He invited them into His daily rhythms and routines. He didn’t just command them to love strangers and sinners; He took them with Him as He sat with prostitutes and tax collectors. He didn’t simply tell them to pray for the sick and minister to the poor; Jesus showed them how when He stopped for blind Bartimaeus and touched the lepers. Jesus didn’t just teach them to love their enemies; He put the ear that Peter had cut off back on the Roman soldier. He didn’t just tell them to care for their families; on the cross, He showed John that Mary was a priority to Him.
Knowing is not the same as doing. Teaching is not the same as practice.
So on Saturday mornings when I go to my workout sessions, I take my kids with me. I want them to see me practice and prioritize my health so that one day they will too.
As parents, disciplining our children is one of the greatest privileges we get in life. Don’t simply offer them information to give them knowledge. In order for them to have a flourishing life, they need to gain wisdom by watching you practice what you say.
So what do you want to instill in your children or what do you want to change in the next generation? Is it making Christ a priority in their lives, infusing prayer into their daily rhythms, sitting with strangers to break bread, or asking for forgiveness when they fail? Do it first, then simply ask them to follow you.
I challenge you with this confident charge that Apostle Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 11:1:“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”