More is Caught Than Taught

Most of us have heard the modern-day proverb “More is caught then taught” or its variations. Some prefer the version: “Actions speak louder than words.” But the bottom line is, if you miss this piece of advice as a parent, it’s going to be a bumpy road as you lead your family.

With Father’s Day upon us, I want to take a minute to encourage dads and husbands that they have what it takes to convey godly character to their families, regardless of their level of eloquence in teaching biblical character and concepts.

When my children were growing up, I was in the habit of getting up early and sitting on the couch in the living room to read my Bible and pray. Sometimes I had great and fulfilling quiet times and sometimes I felt like I was just going through the motions. I always wrestled with how to pass along the wisdom of the Bible to my kids and generally felt like I was falling short in conveying spiritual truth to them.

But as years passed, I started to realize something: one by one I would catch my kids on Father’s Day or my birthday—the two primary occasions when they were compelled to say nice things about Dad—mentioning my morning quiet times as an example of godliness to them. Not one of them ever referenced some piece of life-giving wisdom that I had spoken to them (which actually happened occasionally in my own mind). Every kind sentiment they expressed on a greeting card over the years alluded to what they had learned about following God by simply watching me. The mere fact that I was in the living room reading my Bible and praying was having more impact on my kids than most things I ever said to them.

The impact of this practice has been the same on my wife, Amy. I would love to tell you that I have led her through amazing devotional times over the years and that we have wonderful and consistently deep and meaningful prayer times together most days, but none of that would be true. Our team prayer and devotional life has been hit or miss. But, like my children, Amy has consistently pointed to my mornings on the living room couch in the Word and in prayer as sources of her confidence in my leadership of our family. Amy has the same practice at the dining room table every morning and it gives me great confidence knowing that she follows God first and that her love for me flows out of her relationship with her Heavenly Father.

I have had great teaching moments with my kids, but far fewer than I had hoped, and with far less of their attention and interest than I had hoped. Amy and I have prayed together along the way, but often more mechanically and with less intimacy than I had hoped. The one thing I can point to that had lasting impact on my family has been consistently seeking a deeper relationship with God in full view of my family. The result of that one discipline has been that my wife and children have developed a confidence in my spiritual leadership of our family. The result in me personally has been a deeper relationship with Jesus that has allowed His Gospel to have a transforming impact on my life.

As Scottsdale Bible begins its Immerse Summer Bible Challenge this month, I want to encourage all of you fathers out there that this one act of letting your family catch you pursuing God by spending time in His Word will give huge credibility to all of the words you speak to your family and will validate for them that your pursuit of God is more than just words.

Men—if we can support you in your relationship with Christ or in being an example to your family, please reach out to our Men’s Ministry team or visit to learn about ways to connect and grow at SBC.