Perhaps you have used that phrase yourself...
How well has it worked out?
Train Up A Child Day Fourteen
14. Train them remembering continually the influence; of your own example.
Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are backed up by the pattern of your own life. Your children will never believe you are in earnest, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your actions contradict your counsel.
Archbishop Tillotson made a wise remark when he said, "To give children good instruction, and a bad example, is but beckoning to them with the head to show them the way to heaven, while we take them by the hand and lead them in the way to hell."
We little know the force and power of example. No one of us can live to himself in this world; we are always influencing those around us, in one way or another, either for good or for evil, either for God or for sin. — They see our ways, they mark our conduct, they observe our behaviour, and what they see us practise, that they may fairly suppose we think right. And never, I believe, does example tell so powerfully as it does in the case of parents and children.
Fathers and mothers, do not forget that children learn more by the eye than they do by the ear. No school will make such deep marks on character as home. The best of schoolmasters will not imprint on their minds as much as they will pick up at your fireside. Imitation is a far stronger principle with children than memory. What they see has a much stronger effect on their minds than what they are told.
Take care, then, what you do before a child. It is a true proverb, "Who sins before a child, sins double." Strive rather to be a living epistle of Christ, such as your families can read, and that plainly too. Be an example of reverence for the Word of God, reverence in prayer, reverence for means of grace, reverence for the Lord’s day. — Be an example in words, in temper, in diligence, in temperance, in faith, in charity, in kindness, in humility.
Think not your children will practise what they do not see you do. You are their model picture, and they will copy what you are. Your reasoning and your lecturing, your wise commands and your good advice; all this they may not understand, but they can understand your life.
Children are very quick observers; very quick in seeing through some kinds of hypocrisy, very quick in finding out what you really think and feel, very quick in adopting all your ways and opinions. You will often find as the father is, so is the son.
Remember the word that the conqueror Caesar always used to his soldiers in a battle. He did not say "Go forward," but "Come." So it must be with you in training your children. They will seldom learn habits which they see you despise, or walk in paths in which you do not walk yourself.
He that preaches to his children what he does not practise, is working a work that never goes forward. It is like the fabled web of Penelope of old, who wove all day, and unwove all night. Even so, the parent who tries to train without setting a good example is building with one hand, and pulling down with the other.
The simple fact is our children will do as we do... this is what they remember...
Our children and all others will always measure our words by our actions.
Do we honor with our lips while our hearts are far away?
True belief always results in matched behaviour.
We show we really believe when our lives line up with what we believe.
I am teaching a class on Spiritual Gifts... this weeks lesson is on leadership. As I have studied the Scriptures the Word of God is quite clear that leadership begins with being an example first.
Philip said to Him,
“Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus said to him,
“Have I been so long with you,
and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip?
He who has seen Me has seen the Father;
how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father,
and the Father is in Me?
The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative,
but the Father abiding in Me does His works.
Believe Me that I am in the Father
and the Father is in Me;
otherwise believe because of the works themselves.
Here, when Philip questions Jesus' words, Jesus calls him to look at His works. He reminds Him that he has been with Him, watching Him, observing Him, all this time. He tells him, if you are unsure about the reality and truth of My words look at My life... see that My actions testify that My words are true.
Do your actions testify to your children that your words are true?
Are you leading them by example?