Today's Guest Blog is brought to you by Graham Scharf. Graham is the author of The Apprenticeship of Being Human: Why Early Childhood Parenting Matters to Everyone. He is learning, and blogging, about the intersection of parenting, early childhood, virtue, and habits.

Michael Hyatt wrote about how, as a young child, he walked with a limp. But he didn’t have an injury; it wasn’t that one leg was shorter than the other. The cause of Michael’s limp was his father’s injury in the Korean War. Hyatt explains, “As a young boy, I unconsciously emulated him. I just thought that was the way grown men walked.”

Unconscious Imitation
God has so designed us and put us in families that we bear the image of those who bore us. It isn’t just genetics. We bear the image of our parents by unconscious imitation. As we look at their faces, we subconsciously learn to mimic their expressions. As we speak to one another, we take on their habits of speech. Even in our gait, we bear resemblance to our parents.

This is a beautiful echo of the way that we were made to bear the image of our Father. Simply by being in His presence, gazing at His face, listening to His voice, and attending to His work in the world, we are being formed to reflect His image to the world. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says it well, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

Practice and Formation
Of course, there is intentionality and choice. We focus. We listen. We meditate. We pray. We repent and obey. If we want to play an instrument or a sport – or excel in any field of learning or skill – we must give ourselves to focused, diligent practice. There is no escaping the importance of practice.

But there is at least as much that simply and mysteriously soaks into us in the presence of another person – whether we are intentional in practice or not. This is why Solomon said that “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20). 
This is the glory of parenting. Jesus chose the twelve “that they might be with him” (Mark 3:14). He chose our children that they might be with us. As we establish rhythms and routines that tell the truth about the Creator, His world and His
salvation, it rubs off on our children. They bear our image . . . and our Father’s.

Michael Hyatt walked with a limp simply because he was with his father and assumed that was the way grown men walked. Jacob, the patriarch, walked with a limp because he wrestled with God and refused to let go unless God blessed him. Would it not be glorious to see our children limping because their parents wrestled with God, and bore the marks of the knowledge of Him?

What are the habits and rituals that you repeat daily that are forming you – and your children? What examples have you seen of your kids unconsciously imitating you? What practices do you need to “put on” in being re-formed by your Father in heaven?

Milan Tomic

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  1. Graham, great post. I like the story about the child limping because he thought that was what grown men do. That is a powerful story my friend.

    I wish we could spread this story far and wide for single parents. Even though some don't want to admit it, their children will reflect the other parent. If the other parent has unhealthy and ungodly behaviors then the single parent must work harder, be a wiser and strong person of faith and walk like the Heavenly Father so the children will learn to imitate that instead of the earthly parent's mannerisms. Much harder but not impossible.

    Thanks, Graham,
    Linda Ranson Jacobs
    DC4K Creator /Ambassador
    Biblical Parenting Single Parent Expert