Parenting With Grace in Moments of Truth

Give-Them-GraceThere were times growing up that I was a horrible child. Whether I was running away from my mom as she was trying to speak truth into my life, sneaking out of the house late at night, or lying about where I was going on the weekend, I was always stirring up trouble. As I look back on my childhood, I am so grateful of the grace-filled life my mother lived! She put up with my craziness, was always full of forgiveness, and showered me with love and mercy that I did not deserve. She modeled what it means to parent with grace!

The older I become, the more I realize how difficult it must have been for my mom. I absolutely love my children and would give up anything for them, but there are moments in parenting that a grace-filled life is extremely difficult to live out. My five children need my love, compassion, and forgiveness more than they need a stern attitude, harsh tone, or constant nagging personality. It has taken me far too long to realize the importance of parenting with grace!

As we grasp our identity in Christ, we realize the grace and mercy that is poured out to us each and every day! As parents, we must constantly be showering our children with words of encouragement and love. Even in moments when discipline is necessary, our goal must be to reach our kids’ hearts. In order to accomplish this, we must teach with words of affirmation and maintain a spirit of patience. One of the best ways to practice this involves time and space. I do not believe we should ever allow the sun to go down on our anger, but there may be times where we have to step away from the situation in order to parent with grace. If we have a tendency to react out of anger, we must create boundaries and accountability that will enable us to step away from the situation, creating space for grace and forgiveness.

I have found out the hard way that my kiddos react best to a calm voice that is full of patience and love. Most kids tend to close up and establish defense mechanisms or act out when spoken to harshly. As humans, we have the innate desire to be loved – both through words and deeds. We tend to react much better when people critique us or hold us accountable out of a patient and forgiving spirit. Please don’t hear me wrong – I believe in discipline. Our children need to clearly understand the difference between right and wrong based on the truth of God’s Word! There must be consequences for sin, just like there are consequences for disobeying the speed limit. But truth cannot be told without it being full of grace.  In the same way, we cannot live grace-filled lives if we are not speaking out of the truth of God’s Word!

John 1:14-18 – 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Twice in this passage, Jesus is referred to as the one who comes full of both grace and truth. Is our love for our children seen through this same lens?

One of the most important ways we can parent with grace is through scripture. My wife very rarely ever disciplines or teaches our kids without using Scripture! She lives and breathes God’s Word to our children every single day! There is more power in quoting Scripture to our children than we could ever imagine. As we speak God’s Word to our kids, we will ultimately be sharing the greatest story of grace ever told!

I am grateful for the grace that is poured out to me every single day! I deserve nothing, but am blessed in more ways than I could ever imagine. I thank God for giving me a mother than not only put up with my stupidity, but showered me with more grace and truth than I could handle. I am thankful for a wife that models exactly what it means to live out Christ-like patience, love, and forgiveness towards my children and me.

As we parent with grace, our children will not see us – they will see Christ in us, and our ultimate goal as parents must be to live lives worth imitating for the cause of Christ!

Here are a couple of great resources in regards to grace-filled parenting..

Leading Out of Grace in Moments of Failure

failureI will never forget the first time I allowed one of our student interns to speak in front of our middle school students. I was sitting in the back of the room, cringing the entire time! To this day, I am honestly not sure if our students were able to take anything away from his message. I took tons of notes, sat down with him the following week, and critiqued him in every way possible. I ended our time together by letting him know that he would be back on the speaking schedule the following week. Although I could tell he was extremely nervous, he was excited that I was giving him a second chance! About halfway through his second time  speaking, he hit a wall and lost all track of his thoughts. I proceeded to step in and tag team the rest of the message. I again sat down with him, critiqued him, encouraged him, and once again told him that he would be back on the teaching schedule the following week! I think he was somewhat shocked and surprised that I would have him speak again. It was almost as if he was hoping I would tell him he couldn’t ever teach again.

Since then, his ability to communicate with our students has drastically improved and he has even impressed several of our leaders! Not only is he speaking, but also as a junior in high school, he is involved in several high levels of leadership within our middle school ministry! When many people would have given up on him, we saw a high school student with tons of potential that felt God was calling him into full-time youth ministry. We have given him the opportunities to use his abilities, while providing the resources and relationships he needs to grow his strengths.

I often see leaders fail to empower or enable others to lead because they are afraid of the failure that comes with that. I am not afraid of seeing my leaders fail, because I know that there will be times that I will fail as well. In moments of failure, we need people around us who will be there to critique and encourage us. We need to be held accountable to the calling God has placed on our lives – in moments of success and failure.

When it comes to the ministry God has placed around us, we cannot be afraid to challenge other people to step up, even if we don’t quite think they are ready. They will fail because they are people – just like you and me! But through God’s grace and strength we will continually see people rise above failure as we empower them to lead! We must lead with grace when it comes to the incredible team God has placed around us!

God is showing me everyday that this is a concept He has called us to apply within our own homes as well! I have come in contact with so many kids who forget their parents are human beings and parents who face major disappointment in their kids when they do not live up the standards of perfection. Tomorrow I will discuss through personal experience (writing more to myself than anybody else) what it looks like to live out grace in moments of failure within our own homes!