We’ve spent the past 13 days talking about gentle grace parenting principles. I absolutely love this definition of grace:
Grace–the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
There is absolutely nothing we can do to merit God’s favor! Christianity is built on the doctrine of g-r-a-c-e—that is, that a holy God bestowed His favor on us (unrighteous ones) by sending His perfect Son Jesus to earth to die in our place, that through Him and His atonement for our sins, we might have a spirit-filled life here on earth and an eternity with Him in heaven.
“For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2: 8, 9)
The most important goal of grace parenting has to be the demonstration of grace to our children so they can clearly see JESUS and their need for the gospel.
I love the visual imagery of a parent as a shepherd. We see the big picture of the green pastures ahead and we gently guide our children with our staff to this pasture. We know the dangers of straying too far from the safety of the flock and the protection of the shepherd—we may have even experienced the pain of falling from the rocks or being chased by the wolves ourselves—so we are ever-vigilant.
But I have a CONFESSION to make: I’m just a sheep myself. I mean, I have the job of shepherd in my home, but I’m just a sheep, too. My only accomplishments or credentials lie in the unmerited favor I myself have received from Jesus.
At some point in their lives, our children wake up to this fact, that we, their parents, are human, faulty, willfully sinful at times, and imperfect at best. If we’ve tried to blind them with the lie that we are the standard, not Jesus, they rebel, they are disappointed, and they turn their hearts away from us AND Him.
James 5: 16–“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
The gospel must be visible to our children, and we must be the living example. Today, I’m sharing three ways we can accomplish this:
1. We must be honest about our own failures.
Even when our children are young, we can come alongside them and encourage them with the fact that we also struggle. We can apologize for harsh tones or unkind words. We can model transparency.
Admit your failures openly. Share your struggles willingly. Then show them Jesus. Always Him.
When is the last time your children heard the words, “I’m sorry.”? Let your children see your need for forgiveness and grace. They already know you are a sinner. It won’t lower their respect for you–it will raise it!
2. We must point our everyday experiences back to GOD.
Did you get an extra bonus on your paycheck? Thank God in front of your children.
Are you going through a financial difficulty? Ask God for help in front of your children.
Is there a burden on your heart? Share it with your children and teach them to pray.
Has the weather been gloomy? Thank God for the life-giving rain.
Did you get in a car accident? Praise the Lord for His omnipotence.
Do your children have a question about life? Point them to the Bible.
We must teach our children that everything in life comes from a sovereign God who hears AND answers our prayers, and desires a daily, intimate relationship with us. He is everywhere and in everything, if we take the time to acknowledge Him.
3. We must model Christ-likeness to our children.
This one is hard. We have to practice what we preach. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Just last week, I faced a situation in which I failed this miserably! Someone had wronged me and I gave one of my teens an earful about how I deserved better and how thoughtless this person was. I even planned out my confrontation with this person in front of my daughter. My husband counselled me to calm down and consider saying nothing… but I continued fuming and fussing for quite awhile.
Then I took it to the Lord, and of course, His answer was forgive and let it go. Later that day, my daughter started talking about the situation again, and I was struck by the vividness of her language—it was exactly how I had sounded earlier in the day! I pulled her aside and apologized for my haughty spirit and selfishness. She asked me, “But Mom, why aren’t you going to tell–this person–not to do that again?!”
I was quiet and honest with her. “Because Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek and forgive. And I need to follow His example.” It was an excellent opportunity to show her Jesus–and definitely not Mommy.
Underneath the foundation of grace parenting (that is, that we are to engage our children with their need of the saving grace of the gospel) is the daily mentoring and modeling of Christ-likeness to them.
It’s a daily struggle, one that we can share with them as we walk the same path together. In this way, we slowly become allies, co-laborers, friends even.
It’s a beautiful thing, this grace.
Today’s Challenge: Is there something you need to confess to your children? Are you showing them Jesus in everyday happenings? Join me in striving to show them grace today.