“I’d rather see a sermon, than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.” ~ from the poem Sermons We See by Edgar Guest

Through tears the frustrated mom said, “I don’t know where we’ve gone wrong. My husband and I have done everything we can to instill our values and faith in our children. Last week I got a call from my 2nd grader’s teacher because he yelled ‘Oh, S—!’ and kicked another kid when he was tagged out during a kickball game. We are in church every Sunday and we have required all three of the kids to memorize scripture, and obviously it has gotten us no where. This is so disappointing!”

I smiled and hugged her knowing not only was she disappointed, but most likely more embarrassed, since her kids went to a Christian school. I wanted to explain to her that kids are kids, and just because you have them in church every week doesn’t make you bullet proof to embarrassment and disappointment. But I knew she didn’t want to hear that and reminding her kids usually mimic their parents probably wouldn’t have set well either. I just kept my mouth shut hoping she would ask what to do. She didn’t.

Spike White, my extra daddy and mentor, always told me kids watch more than they hear. “If you want honesty, be honest. If you want grateful kids, don’t grumble,” he’d say. “If you want your kids to be kind and helpful, set an example.”

Travis signed up to ring the Salvation Army bell with Jameson and Owen last week. The boys learned about sacrificing a warm house for an hour to help those who may not even have a house. Watching their dad serve rather than listening to him preach will sink in much deeper.

It’s confusing to kids to quote scripture to them on the way to church while calling everyone driving too slow an idiot and everyone driving too fast a maniac. As convicting as it may be, we teach our kids with everything we do. They only copy what they see.

Sermons We See

Edgar Guest

I’d rather see a sermon

than hear one any day;

I’d rather one should walk with me

than merely tell the way.

The eye’s a better pupil

and more willing than the ear,

Fine counsel is confusing,

but example’s always clear;

And the best of all the preachers

are the men who live their creeds,

For to see good put in action

is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it

if you’ll let me see it done;

I can watch your hands in action,

but your tongue too fast may run.

And the lecture you deliver

may be very wise and true,

But I’d rather get my lessons

by observing what you do;

For I might misunderstand you

and the high advice you give,

But there’s no misunderstanding

how you act and how you live.

When I see a deed of kindness,

I am eager to be kind.

When a weaker brother stumbles

and a strong man stays behind

Just to see if he can help him,

then the wish grows strong in me

To become as big and thoughtful

as I know that friend to be.

And all travelers can witness

that the best of guides today

Is not the one who tells them,

but the one who shows the way.

One good man teaches many,

men believe what they behold;

One deed of kindness noticed

is worth forty that are told.

Who stands with men of honor

learns to hold his honor dear,

For right living speaks a language

which to every one is clear.

Though an able speaker charms me

with his eloquence, I say,

I’d rather see a sermon

than to hear one, any day.

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