Do What I Do Not Just What I Say

Maybe you have heard or even used the saying, “Do as I say not as I do!” This statement, to me, comes across as hypocritical if the person does not live out their words.  “Do What I Do Not Just What I Say!” calls parents to live as an example to their children.


I just returned from a cross country trip, taking a car to one of my daughters, which allowed me to spend time with her and stop by and visit with another daughter (son in law and grandsons). It was a great time and memories were made. It was also a blessing to see them living out their Biblically based value system. One of the truths in the Parkinson home was “everyone lives to the same standard.” The saying “Do as I Say not as I do,” really promotes that there is one standard for me, the adult, and one for you, the child, and it undermines obedience.  Now I need to make a distinction between privileges and moral responsibilities. A privilege is something that is earned, usually as a result of maturity. Parents will enjoy privileges because they are the parents. Our saying does not apply for instance to the parents bed time or the media context they watch (to a certain limit). A moral responsibility is Biblical teaching on what is right and wrong and this standard applies to everyone, parents and children the same. If it is wrong for a child to fib (or lie) about taking a cookie, it is also wrong for the parents to fib (or lie) about calling in sick when they are not. Let me share a few benefits when parents and children live to the same Biblical moral standard.


First, it makes obedience attractive. Nothing is more discouraging than hypocrisy. Actually, hypocrisy eats away at the glue of truth that holds family relationships together. Parental inconsistency discourages children from being obedient. It teaches them to say “Well Dad (or Mom) did it, so it must be OK for me to do.  It teaches your children that it is OK to bend the rules of Scripture. But when a parent lives to the standard, and especially when a moral choice requires a sacrifice they are actually stating that values matter.


Second, it strengthens the relationship between the parent and their child. It actually strengthens a parent’s instruction and advice in the eyes of a child. The result is that a child’s trust in mom and dad grows. Part of this relationship is mutual accountability. When both parent and child are held to the same standard each is accountable to the other. It means that the child can call the parent to the standard respectfully but also the parent can call the child to the standard. There have been many time that my kids have respectfully approached me on an issue (i.e. driving the speed limit.)  They are, in turn, more receptive when I need to approach them on an issue.


There is a saying that I use often that challenges us to not only instruct our children but to live out our values before them. It goes, “You actions speak so loud I cannot hear what you are saying.” Usually this is used as a response to hypocritical instructions but it could also be used to speak of the power of Godly behavior. We could reword it to say, “Your Actions Speak So Loud, I Hear/See What You are Saying!”


-Pastor Joe Parkinson

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