Ashley, my ten-year-old, just finished making a loaf of banana bread - with no help from me. The best part is, she put the ingredients away as she went, so that there was no mess left on the counter when she was done. Anyone that knows Ashley knows that clean-up is less a part of her vocabulary than birth control is of mine. The only explanation for her kitchen cleanliness is that it's the result of careful training on my part. (So they really DO listen when I speak. Amazing.)
Proverbs 22:6(NIV) tells us, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." This proverb applies to practical matters, like me teaching Ashley to clean up after herself while cooking, but even more so to spiritual matters.
Some of the conversations I have with my sister about spiritual matters still shock me. It has been years since she used to spend time every summer with me, but now when she speaks it's as if she is parroting my exact words. Words from years past that I had spoken to her, and thought for sure were just using her eardrums as a jumping board to their next stop.
Today, watching Ashley do something so completely against her nature, I was reminded of the power that we wield as mothers, mentors, friends. Whether or not we can visibly see it, our words and actions impact those around us. The results may not become apparent until years later, but we have to trust that when we are sowing God's seeds they do not fall on unfertile ground.
So, consider how you are training your children. Are you teaching them what is important, how to have a relationship with God, how to be unselfish, how to take responsibility for their actions? Or, are you only teaching them how to be competitive in sports and how to keep nagging until they get their own way? Remember, it is not only our intentional teaching that affects the people around us, but our inadvertant words and actions as well.