Leading by Example


“Praaaaaaiiissseeee the Lord, oh my soul,” screams my 2-year-old as we blast it on the speakers in our home. Both children are dancing as we see dada on tv playing at church while we’re watching from home. Have you ever seen anything sweeter? It brings tears to my eyes almost every time. There is nothing more humbling and sweeter than raising a kid to know and love Jesus; it really will bring you down to earth and punch you in the gut at the same time.

My 2-year-old can’t read the Bible yet, and many stories he can’t understand yet. But he and his baby brother can watch mama and dada pray, worship and love like Jesus. Sometimes it’s him that’s reminding us to pray when we sit down for dinner, because the big “AMEN” at the end is his favorite. His baby brother has even started to join in. We aren’t anything special and we haven’t figured everything out yet, and probably never will, but one day at a time in this crazy life is what we can handle for now.

We decided before we had kids that we want to be the kind of example that would lead our kids to Jesus and when you pray for something like that the Lord has a way of showing you all your muddy parts. The questions creeped in when I was pregnant with my first, “Am I qualified for this?” “How can I teach him to know and love Jesus when I fail daily?” or the, “I can’t do this Lord.” And that’s the point. You can’t do this, not alone anyways.

You were meant to see that your need for Jesus is colossal; especially when you’ve never done this before. And as soon as that precious baby made his way into this world, reality set in and the famous scripture, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son . . .” John 3:16.

How? For me? For this baby? For all my friends? I couldn’t imagine it, giving up any of my kids. They’re my whole world, but He did, for me.

One of our favorite songs in our house right now is called, “Abandoned” by Benjamin William Hastings, and I encourage you to listen to it, but here are some of the lyrics that I couldn’t put into better words myself.

“Somethin’ isn’t adding up, This wild exchange You offer us
I gave my worst, You gave Your blood, Seems hard to believe
You’re tellin’ me You chose the Cross? You’re tellin’ me I’m worth that much? Well, if that’s the measure of Your love How else would I sing?
But completely, deeply, sold-out, sincerely abandoned
I’m completely, freely, hands-to-the-ceiling enamored
My one-life endeavor, To match Your surrender
To mirror not my will, but Yours
Oh, I’m completеly, deeply, don’t-care-who-sees-me abandoned”

Don’t I owe it to my Savior to share His love and His sacrifice to all who will listen? First and foremost, to the next generation that I have the unique opportunity to raise in my own home.

We’ve been blessed beyond measure with an incredible village of people that have been through this season that we are in, and we’ve also been blessed with some who we get to walk alongside through the same seasons with. These are the things that change our lives daily, the friendships and the community that believe Jesus should be the center of our home, and who will pray for us and our children as if they were their own.


It’s 3:00 p.m. again, and I rush home from the office. I started coming into work at 6:30 in the morning so I could squeeze out a couple more hours with my boys each day. I can’t always do it, but I make a point to leave as close to 3:00 every day that I can. The extra couple of hours in the afternoon have made such a difference in our lives, and I wouldn’t trade that time with my boys for anything.

My father never had much time for me, and by the time I was an adolescent, he was incarcerated. We haven’t had a relationship since. You can imagine the fear I had when my wife told me she was pregnant with our first, especially when we found out it would be a boy. All the feelings and emotions I had towards my father came rushing back like a violent flood. Emotions that I thought were far in the past showed up at my door in the form of a tiny version of me. Some things you just can’t outrun. I began creating a picture of the father I would be, the antithesis of my father.

I struggled through that first year as a parent, always feeling like I could never live up to this picture I had in my head of a perfect father. A strong, disciplined father that always created order out of the chaos of life. A father that would listen, teach, correct, and guide his children. The reality is our children don’t care about any of that. It is certainly a part of parenting, but more than anything in this world, our children need just one thing. US. They need us to play with them, to talk to them. They need us to hold their face and tell them we love them. And they need our attention. They don’t need us to just be around, they need us to be present. That means phones down, distractions away, focused.

Our culture is obsessed with filling every spare moment of time with another activity. When we bring this obsession home to our family, we show our children what we do, but not who we are. I have heard the phrase many times that “more is caught, than taught.” I don’t think any phrase could be truer when it comes to parenting. I learned this most clearly from my two-year-old. He has started saying, “HUH?” to everything we say, and I do mean EVERY. SINGLE. THING. It might be the most annoying word in the English language at this point, and my wife and I complain about it to each other at least 37 times a day. That was until a couple days ago. My wife asked me a question as I was sitting on the couch with my son, and we both turned and simultaneously responded, “HUH?!” If you have never eaten crow served by a toddler, you are really missing out. Apparently, I’m the problem.

It’s not just the annoying things he learns from us though. It’s also the hugs and kisses, the “thank yous” and “you’re welcomes.” It’s the “I love you” and the “bye” a hundred times in a row before I leave for work every day. And more than anything, it’s the tiny little hands held out for me to hold as my little boy says, “Pray?” before a meal. It’s small and seemingly insignificant, but these are the moments that the foundation of their faith is built on. They watch everything we do, and over time they learn who we are. We are children of God, and if we truly mean that, then we must live it from whom we are not what we do.

Luke 10:38-42 tells the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha.

It reads:
38. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many
things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mary understood that Jesus was not interested in what she did, but who she was. He would rather have had her sit at his feet with a messy home and no dinner, than have her run around concerned about things that ultimately don’t really matter. We are invited into this communion with Jesus and our children can come too.

Written by: David and Sofia Napier. David and Sofia live in Jacksonville, FL with their two sons. They are active in their church and community and have a strong passion for the next generation to know and love Jesus.