Happy New Year! The new year is a time when many of us think about setting new goals. And many of our goals — expressions of the kinds of people we want to be — are shaped by the people around us whose examples we want to follow.
Fittingly, the virtue for January is the Pacesetter — the one who sets an example for others by following the example of Christ.
The Goal of a Pacesetter
The Bible is full of great examples of people with real struggles who walked in faith as they followed God. The Bible also tells us as followers of Jesus to set an example for others, no matter how young we are.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
Yes, our kids—even our little ones—can set an example for others, while following the example of Jesus and walking alongside others who followed Jesus. They can encourage others by the way they talk and act. They can show their friends, their teachers, and us as parents what it means to trust and have faith.
There is nothing more encouraging to me than when my kids show me an example of pure faith through an act of kindness or self-sacrifice. I have no greater joy than this (3 John 1:4)!
The Fuel of a Pacesetter
How can you help your son and the rest of your family live as Pacesetters, setting an example by following Jesus’s example?
First, point them to the perfect source. Jesus is not only the perfect example—he also gives us the strength to follow his example.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1–2
The second sentence is saying that Jesus is the founder of our faith. He created and sustains all things (Hebrews 1:2–3). His sacrifice for our sins on the cross allows us to let go of all the guilt, fear, selfishness, and everything else that keeps us from trusting in Jesus. By relying on Jesus’s power through prayer, we can follow him in faith.
The Bible is full of other regular people who have been great examples of following God in faith. The first sentence in the verses above summarizes the previous chapter, Hebrews 11. Read Hebrews 11 with your kids (we have some ideas for that in the calendar below) or use the Jesus Storybook Bible to teach your children about these great witnesses, their imperfect humanity, and their character traits that are worth following.
Living as a Pacesetter
Once they see that they have what they need in Jesus and that they have other people’s examples to follow, encourage your children to set an example by:
- Using their words to encourage others
- Having good conduct, acting in ways that are worth following
- Loving others by putting others’ needs ahead of their own
- Trusting in God and praying to him and thanking him for sending his Son to pay for all of our sins / the times we are not good examples
- Being worshipful and grateful by thinking about God and his Son—the miracle of Christmas we just celebrated
- Going as a family to serve the poor or homeless, not expecting any repayment but because Jesus has given you a gift you could never repay
For more details and daily examples, see the virtue calendar. We encourage you to print it out and put it on your refrigerator or another central point in your home for the month of January, so that you can encourage your children to live as Pacesetters and follow Jesus’s example.