Contrast 2 of 5 on parenting from grace vs. parenting for moralism _ “I can’t believe you did that” or “I know why you did that.”

I have said it, too. Caleb makes a mistake. I spout off, “I can’t believe you did that!” Or maybe an alternate derivative – “Why did you do that?”

Don’t we know? Maybe we don’t.

I was in a training seminar this week when, as an example of how even from an early age we look for someone else to blame, the teacher showed a video of a little three year old girl blaming her 8 month old sister of drawing high up on a chair (when the little one couldn’t even stand). It is in us. Selfishness. And when confronted, the selfish act of deflecting the issue onto someone else. It is our tendency. We make a selfish choice. We want to cover it up and hide.

The Garden story is the story of all of us.

So, why do we parent as though it isn’t?

Do we grow out of this? Can we self-actualize our way out of our selfish tendencies, our relationally destructive choices? Tell Jesus that is possible. His nail-scars declare otherwise.

Stay with me. I am guilty of this just like any other parent. Having brain lapses as though my kids shouldn’t make mistakes. You may have never thought of it, but if you parent with this “why did you do that” emphasis, you will sow the seeds either of self-sufficiency or self-destruction. Either that child will reap an air of “I am okay and don’t need anyone else,” or she will reap the stinch of shame and isolation wondering why she can’t ever get it right.

Do either of these welcome the Gospel?

No wonder God had to fit into skin to do something about it. We would have ignored him altogether or just hidden in shame. John, in chapter one of his Gospel, actually wrote that this is what we did.

So, if that was not the way to welcome Jesus, then why would we parent with the mindset and habits that cultivate for that level of self-absorption?

We as parents must beg Jesus to transform our default statement from “I can’t believe you did that” to “I know why you did that.” Furthermore, we know the One who did something about why we do that.

Are we parenting our kids to be perfect or are we parenting them with a perfect love?

Paul declared in Romans 2 that kindness leads to repentance. Repentance is turning from the path I am on to walk a different path. We need to repent as parents of our default mindset, and then parent in environments that encourage repentance, simply because our kids will always need to practice repentance and confession all of their lives. Just like we as parents do. And that environment that encourages repentance is one of perfect love.

Perfect love is not perfect parenting. Rather, it is parenting with a default of grace and forgiveness and multiple chances and ongoing training and expectation of mistakes made rather than perfect behavior. AND, we are in no way capable of this perfect love unless as parents we ourselves are living dependent upon the One who loves us perfectly.

Speaking of living dependently, may I offer a word of caution?

We must be careful of buying into the lie of American culture called “self-esteem.”

Are we parenting our kids toward self-esteem or God-esteem?

Hopefully the latter. Because anything prefixed with the word “self” seems to me to be referring to something that was nailed and buried. I don’t need to believe in myself. I need to believe in the One who believes in me. I don’t need to accept Him as much as I need to accept the truth that He has accepted me. Jesus, the Gospel incarnate, declares it!

WE ARE WORTH DYING FOR TO GOD.

As parents, may we remember that being worth dying for to God implies the need for sacrifice. For sin to be covered. For selfishness to be remedied.

We know why we make selfish choices. And we know why our kids do, too. Let’s not direct them toward expected perfection. Let’s introduce them to the One who loved perfectly, in the midst of our imperfections.

My brother pulled me aside when I was in high school during a time when I was especially down because of personal sin and selfishness. He reminded me that sorrow for that sin was healthy. But moping was not. And he challenged me that expecting to make myself unselfish was not healthy either. Rather, I should smile instead of feeling shame. I should smile, because my selfish insufficiencies were glaring evidence of my desperation for the All-Sufficient One. I should smile, a smile of confession, that I need Jesus.

And He met me in my need.

May we go with Him to meet our kids there, too.

———-

So we considered when our kids make mistakes today. But what about all the mistakes we are gonna make as parents? Let’s look at that tomorrow…

This week, in prep for our “Family Conversation” Sat night, let’s consider five contrasts between parenting from grace versus parenting for moralism.

This week, I wanted to share five posts, one each day from today through Saturday, containing thoughts that swirl in my head and heart regarding “grace based parenting.” It is in preparation for our Westpoint Church “Family Conversation” this coming Saturday night @ the Roper YMCA in Winter Garden, FL at 6pm.

It has been inspired by such resources as:

:: Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel
:: Give Them Grace by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
:: Gospel-Centered Parenting by Rick Thomas
:: Gospel-Centered Family by Tim Chester

For those planning on being there, please consider reading these five posts I will post this week prior to coming Saturday, as they will certainly enrich our learning conversation together. For those who can’t make it, I hope they encourage and sharpen you in your parenting.

Hopeful for more “on earth as it is in heaven” in our homes and kids’ lives.

-jason

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contrast 1 _ parenting with the Gospel versus parenting for moralism

Let me begin by stating the obvious – my wife and I may have six kids but that doesn’t mean we are good parents. In fact, we are very aware of our mistakes, and we try to be confessional about them with the Lord and with each other.

Furthermore, may I suggest that God did not intend for the goal of your parenting to be GOOD. By that I mean the Scriptures never seem to call us to focus on our own goodness and improvement, measuring our performance while expecting perfect results. This is a sure fire formula for severe disappointment, both in ourselves and our kids.

Notice what Moses commanded the Hebrews in Deuteronomy 6:

Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give you-a [land with] large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill [them with], wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant-and when you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-12 HCSB)

Among the many things one could say about this Scripture, notice that Moses challenged them to remember who God is and what He had said and what He was doing and that He wanted to be as close to them as in their heart, involved in the everyday rhythms of their lives. Also, notice that Moses challenged them to be cautious when they got into the land not to reflect on their own goodness and accomplishments forgetting the goodness and nearness of God. God’s goodness was to be highlighted so that their kids would know Him above all else.

It’s almost like Moses expected them to forget God gave them what they had. It’s almost like Moses anticipated their pride and their tendency toward making themselves the idol as well as making for themselves an idol. After all, he had quite a history with them that demonstrated this pattern.

We are prone to wander, too. Prone as people to forget the God who so loved the world instead living like we, the world, need to perform perfectly to earn His love. Prone as parents to try to be good enough so that our kids will turn out good instead of remembering that even our best efforts still won’t guarantee our kids make the best choices. Prone as families to create cultures within our homes filled with expectations that kids maintain a certain image, modifying their behavior with self-improvement tactics instead of living lives eager to confess when mistakes are made, highlighting a Savior who invited us to deny self and follow Him daily.

May we never forget all that God does in and through us in spite of our stubbornness and in the midst of our mistakes.

Moses never challenged the people to be GOOD parents. Maybe because God wants us to trust that His goodness is enough rather than trying to be good enough?

Does God want us to parent our kids on a foundation of grace or from a foundation of self-improvement?

Let’s consider the purpose of marriage. Is it to grow in oneness with the Father together as a couple while growing toward intimate oneness that leads to being fruitful and multiplying in many ways, including dying to self in order to give life into one another as well as into the next generation? The Garden story seems to declare this.

Let’s consider the purpose of parenting. Is it to love God with all of our heart and soul and strength, learning and living His ways together as a family and emphasizing His teachings in our everyday rhythms such that our children get to know and never forget this God who has come near and invites them along with Him? Deuteronomy 6 seems to declare this.

Let’s consider the pragmatism of parenting. What will cultivate for our kids living a Jesus-centered life? Will it be raising kids in an environment that demands moral perfection creating kids so clean and tidy they never think of even needing the Gospel? Or will it be raising kids in an environment of gracious relationship where wrongs are confronted with opportunities for confession and rights are encouraged with grateful affirmation? It must be an environment where selfishness is challenged at all costs. And all kinds of selfishness – both the self-indulgent kind as well as the self-righteous kind.

My prayer is that our children will grow into adults who recognize knowing Jesus as a desperate need rather than an opportunity for improvement and advancement?

The goal of our parenting may need to be adjusted from our kids having good behavior to our kids believing in and understanding their desperate need for God’s goodness. What are we doing to help them realize how good He is rather than realizing a personal goodness?

Paul declared that perfect rule keeping simply isn’t enough. In fact, he declared it as contrary to the cross of Christ.

19 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. 20 Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule- keeping, peer- pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule- keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
(Galatians 2:19-21, MSG)

Wow. So, how does that change my parenting philosophy and approach? Hopefully we can continue to learn along that pathway of thinking together on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, why do we parent our kids as though they shouldn’t make mistakes? Lets look at that tomorrow…

Here are the final details for the 2012 @LiveSent Conversation this Thursday, November 15th…

Here are the final details nailed down for our yearly, conversational, non-conference, learning get-together next week!!!

Speaking of learning – we are grateful to be on the campus of a learning environment that this year was named the # 1 community college in America. Valencia College administration has generously offered us a classroom on their west campus. Details below for exactly where, a link with a campus map, and where to park.

We will begin next Thursday, November  15th, at 9:00am with a time of prayer together before we encourage one another around three questions for the day:

  1. what would I have done differently?
  2. how do we move from idea toward implementation? 
  3. why is it so hard to cultivate for togetherness around mission with our church family and in our community, and what might we need to do differently, even have the courage to let go of?

We will bring some coffee and snacks in, but we will go just down the road for a quick lunch break. We will return after lunch and resume learning together.

Please come with some leaders from the city where you live and the church family of which you are a part. And please come with some stories to share of how you are living sent and equipping followers of Jesus to live sent in their daily rhythms.

We will conclude at 5:00pm. Hanging out at supper for some evening connection and conversation about giving ourselves away together in our respective cities is encouraged.

REMEMBER – this is free :-) If you wanna pitch in a dollar or two to help with coffee and snacks, that’s cool but no pressure.

Love y’all a bunch. Look forward to seeing you next week.
-jason

WHERE @ on the VALENCIA WEST CAMPUS:

  • building 4, Room 202
  • CLICK HERE for the west campus address and a campus map that shows bldg. 4 with adjacent parking lots
  • please use parking Lots D or E

Text us or tweet at us or comment below with any questions.