Is There a Parent in the House?
From the series House or Home - Parenting Edition
We all want to be good parents, but most of the time we’re not sure if we’re doing the right thing, or if we’re even making a difference. Chip shares some very practical ways for you to know whether or not you are on the right track with your kids.
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About this series
House or Home - Parenting Edition
God's Blueprint for Biblical Parenting
Chip Ingram teaches timeless truths about God's blueprint for parenting and offers a wealth of personal experience and practical help. With courage, tenacity, and focus, this series has the potential to forever change the trajectory of your family life and how you relate with your children.More from this series
Listen very carefully. The greatest joys you’ll ever experience on this planet will have to do with your children. The greatest sorrows you’ll ever experience on this planet will have to do with your children.
The most precious gift and possession that God will ever entrust to you are your children. And the greatest responsibility and potential for legacy and impact are your children.
So let’s jump in together and let’s get God’s perspective on children, big picture. And then I want to give you what I think are the four overarching, biblical axioms or principles about when God says, “What’s the blueprint for raising kids that fulfills My agenda, that brings you joy, and allows them to respond to Me in the way I want them to…” those are the four things we’re going to cover.
Your kids matter to God. Listen to what he says in Psalm 137:3 through 5. “Behold! Children are a gift of the Lord.” Circle the word “gift.” “The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Circle the word “reward.” Some days they don’t feel like a gift and some days they do not feel like a reward.
“But they’re like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gates.”
Notice an arrow is something that’s to be launched and sent. An arrow needs a clear target. An arrow needs preparation. God’s will for your kids is not just they’re sweet, and perfect, and happy, and everything comes out right. Arrows have purpose.
God has a purpose for your daughters and a purpose for your son. He has entrusted them to you temporarily and they are a gift and they’re His, and they’re a reward, and your job is to discern what is the target? And how does this arrow need to be shaped? And how do you release this arrow, not so everything turns out the way you want it to, but so that arrow hits the target that a sovereign, all-wise, all-knowing, loving God has for your son or daughter.
Because the greatest joy they will ever experience is being in the center of His will. You can’t do that for them but you create that environment.
Notice what the Scripture says, instructions to parents. This is the key New Testament passage. We’ll come back to it often. “Children, obey your parents.” By the way, when you think about what you need to help your kids learn, it’s the only one command in all of the New Testament that kids have.
Obey your parents. So, I’ll flip it around. How serious are you about helping them learn to obey?
Notice He goes on to say, “For this is right.” And then He reaches back into the Ten Commandments. Commandment number five: “Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.”
And so the summary we have is children are a gift from God, a sacred stewardship, temporarily entrusted to parents for the purpose of raising godly offspring to fulfill God’s agenda for His world. That’s a very long, purposeful statement.
A gift, stewardship, temporary. They’re not yours. This issue that how they turn out reflects so much on you. Christian parents especially take way too much responsibility for when their kids don’t turn out right and take almost no responsibility when they turn out well. You talk to Christian parents and if their kids turn out, “Oh, well, it was all the Lord.” Of course it was all the Lord. But you had a part.
But it’s really funny then you got two or three that make great decisions and they have little choosers and one of them makes some really bad decisions. And I’ve been with parents that for twenty years, “I’m a failure. I blew it. It’s all my fault.” Well, how can it be all your fault if it all goes wrong but it’s all God if it all goes right?
See, that kind of thinking is really not very good thinking. You, as a parent, are a steward. You create an environment where your children can learn, and grow, and respond to God.
What choices they make, you know what they are? They’re choices. And sometimes at fourteen, or sixteen, or eighteen, or twenty, or twenty-three they make some very foolish, sinful, stupid choices.
Now, if you haven’t taught them anything and you’ve been neglectful and you haven’t modeled the things that would help them make good choices, then you need to ask God to forgive you and repent.
But if to the best of your ability you’ve done all that you can to create that kind of environment and they make some of those choices, you need to understand, I’m a steward. I need to own anything that I’ve done that I know was wrong and then I need to release that child and realize, you know something? They need to learn to feel the weight of their consequences, and you not own everything that goes wrong in your kids’ lives.
There’s some parents, I’ve met people that their life stops. Everything is wrong. Everything is bad because somehow, anything that happens with their kids was all their fault.
I got news for you. You’re just not that big and you’re not that important. And so we need to understand. They’re our kids. We’re going to love them like crazy. We’re going to walk with God and set a great example. We’re going to create an environment. We’re going to be disciplined. We’re going to give them tough love and we’re going to give them tender love.
But at the end of the day they’re going to make some decisions and what you want to do, you parent differently when you understand, “I’m going to help them learn to experience some consequences to help them make great decisions and to follow hard after Christ.”
But there are no guarantees. There is no formula. There is no, “If you do A, B, C, and D, all your kids turn out a certain way.” And so let’s get really clear on that.
Now, let’s ask, well, what is that environment? How do you do it? Four biblical principles to become godly parents. Number one. Godly parents begin with positive, clear-cut objectives.
You might put an arrow in your notes and write the word “target.” As one of my old coaches said, “If you don’t have a target, you hit it every time.”
Godly parents start with a positive, clear-cut objective. In the Phillips translation, notice what it says in Ephesians 6:4. “Fathers,” negative command, “don’t overcorrect your children or exasperate them or make it difficult for them to obey the command.” Then notice the positive command. “Bring them up with Christian teaching and Christian discipline.”
Negative command is don’t exasperate them. Don’t be perfectionistic. Don’t compare them with their brothers. Don’t say, “You ought to do this.” Don’t ask a C student to get all As.
Don’t demand that because you love sports they should love sports. Don’t demand that they ought to be musical because you just think musical is really important.
Don’t exasperate your kids. Don’t demand that every little thing is right all the time. Don’t scream and yell and intimidate them and discipline out of anger. There’s a lot of different ways that we exasperate our children and make it hard for them to obey.
But, by contrast, bring them up. The word, literally, is nurture. So how do you bring up or nurture, train, develop, and educate your child to fulfill, or become mature, of their absolute highest potential? That’s what He’s saying. That’s your job.
And so what He says, then, after this is how to do it. Christian teaching and Christian discipline. We’ll get into this a bit later. Christian teaching is what you say to your kids. Discipline is what you do. Those are the two, kind of, things that you have to help your kids. There’s certain things you say, there’s certain things you do.
Our problem, normally, is we get them at their, we flip flopped in the wrong time. When they’re very small we say, say, say, say too much. We got a two year old. All you need to tell him is, “Bobby, when I say, ‘Pick up your toys,’ pick them up.” “Why?” “I said so. That’s why. Because all you need to do is obey.”
Bobby is a teenager. “Hey, I want to go to this movie! I want to do this with my friends! I don’t understand! Hey, Dad, give me a break, will ya? How come I can’t?” “I said so.” Not a good answer.
When they’re a teenager you want to talk. Here’s the why. Here’s the what for. Here’s the reasoning. Why do you think you should do that?
When they’re small, what you want do is set the guardrails, by your actions and your consequences. They can’t think developmentally. They can’t think abstractly. They’re very concrete.
And what you’re going to learn all throughout the process when they’re young, pre-teens, teenagers, and older is these two tools are in your bag. Certain things you’re going to say, certain things you’re going to do.
And he says, “That’s how you bring them up and then nurture.” I call this the principle of focus. The greatest thing I see parents do, and been there done that, is parenting out of fear instead of parenting out of focus.
Being a good parent is not figuring out how to drive yourself crazy every weekend in SUVs and minivans. Taking kids to multiple things that they actually don’t want to go to, often, and are not ready for but because all the other parents are doing it.
And what’s the motivation? “I’m afraid my kid will get left behind. I’m afraid they won’t develop. I’m afraid of what the other parents might think.”
So you got a parent out of focus. What’s the goal? God’s dream or the world’s dream? I call it the American dream. God’s dream, under that in your notes write the word “Romans 8:29.” We often quote Romans 8:28, don’t we? You know how God works all things together for the good for those that love Him that are called according to His purpose.
So we can know that difficult situations, world tragedies, I mean, all kind of issues. We know a sovereign, all-wise, powerful God is going to work all things together for good. And we quote that.
Verse 29 tells us for what? He says, “In order to conform us to the image of His Son.” In essence, God’s primary agenda for your daughter or your son is to make him like Christ.
The Bible calls that “being holy.” Not holy as in you have to have bumper stickers on your car. Not holy as you are, you know, really weird and can’t relate to normal people.
“Holy” as being morally pure and different or distinct and being like Christ, loving other people the way Christ did. Caring for people the way Christ did. Having the heart, the character, and the love of Christ.
That’s God’s agenda for your son. That’s the number one thing he’s trying to get done. And you know what? Whether he can hit a ball or not, play an instrument or not, has a high SAT score or not, gets into an ivy league school or not, is more upwardly mobile than you or not. That’s the agenda.
But the American dream, the world’s dream, really, is we’ve been bombarded with thoughts to say, you know what success as a parent is? Your kid makes first team. No, forget first team, make the traveling team. Because it costs more money and you get to travel. And usually miss church.
And they need to be in the best schools. And the best opportunities. And have the good life. And be upwardly mobile. And be more secure. And they need to achieve. They need to have more status.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard parents say, “I don’t want my kids to go through what I went through.” That’s an interesting statement. I’ve heard parents say that who have really great character, who are very godly. And I’m thinking, “So, what is it you don’t want them to go through?” No pain, no suffering, no difficulty, no conflict in relationships? You know what? I’m just betting those are all the things that made you who you are.
See, what happens is generation number one discovers Christ, loves Him, has a radical transformation, begins to walk with God. When you begin to walk with God, you prioritize your money, you prioritize your time, you discover your spiritual gifts, you get into biblical community and guess what all that does? It causes God’s blessing.
And God’s blessing usually has some side benefits like personal peace. Usually He blesses a lot of other areas of your life. He often promotes you in ways. And you become more financially comfortable.
So generation number two comes and doesn’t go through all that pain and so generation two thinks, “Wow, Mom and Dad took care of this, and this is good, and this is good.”
And you have a conviction. They have sort of a comfortable, believing, consciousness of Christ. And then the next generation, often, is either rejecting Christ or lukewarm at best.
And a lot of it is the very thing that brings success… all these parents are trying to keep your kids from going through difficulty. Keep them from going through pain. That’s how you got close to God.
Now, you don’t have to create these situations but you need to understand, don’t parent out of fear. Don’t parent out of your kids getting in a difficult situation. We isolate them. We’ve isolated them in ways where the only people they’re ever around, at times, are Christians.
Any time, I’ve watched parents when there’s a little conflict starting, oh! Rush in. “You say sorry, you say…” I mean, my lands! Let them fight a little bit! You know what? A smart-aleck kid that keeps messing with people? Some bigger kid is going to help him learn how to not mess with people. But you can’t get that anymore. “Oh, oh, oh! Stop, stop, stop, stop!” And a lot of it is, you know what the parents says? It makes me look bad as a parent. “My child is not perfectly behaved.” None of mine were. And I have no idea what they did when I wasn’t around.
But you need to parent out of focus not parent out of fear.
One focus is on character the other is on circumstance. And I will tell you, especially some of you that God has blessed and are upwardly mobile. There’s a whole generation of younger parents that feel this invisible demand to have your kid involved in everything and be successful.
I just came back from an overseas trip where some very, very strong Christian people in Korea and Hong Kong, I mean, it’s like a tutor for six or seven hours every Saturday so the SAT scores are up here, so they can get in an ivy league school.
And I was with a man and his wife and we were talking about priorities, and family, and he’s a CEO of one of the largest companies there in Korea and I was asking him about his family and I did a retreat for them and as we were talking I said, “Your wife asked me a question that was really hard to handle in front of a group of people. I need to ask you about it.” He goes, “Yeah.” I said, “Your wife, you know, you have a son that got all these great grades, and got into an ivy league school, and got the multiple degrees, and he lives now in New York and has a very good job, and is making a lot of money.
“And he’s the picture of success, correct?” “Yes.” “Well, your wife asked, in front of those other CEOs at the table, she asked me, ‘What should I tell my son who told me, “If being a Christian is being a Christian like my father, I don’t want to be one.”’”
We were driving in the car going home and she said, “You know what? It was, we were…” He taught at the Wharton School of Finance for ten or twelve years. Later, he was asked to come back to Korea and taught there at a major university and then appointed to a very high government position. And because of that and the culture is just workaholism at levels that even I, having been there and done that, could not fathom.
And she went out and bought furniture for the family and one Saturday, after they’d been there about two or three years, they were sitting down to have breakfast together. And they realized they only had three chairs. And she, it didn’t even dawn on her. They only had three chairs because they never expected the father to, ever, be there at breakfast, or at dinner. And, you know, they just had this moment.
Now, what I gotta tell you is this couple, what they’re doing in their marriage, what they’re doing with their kids, how they’re leading this group of CEOs and saying, “You know something? We Koreans are really zealous. But we’re exporting a kind of family that is not honoring to Christ.”
And I guess what I’d ask you is, “What’s yours look like?” Is yours focused a lot on your kids being successful? Or is it on them being holy? And, by the way, it’s not an either or. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think every youth sport is wrong or, you know, music lessons… all the rest.
But I’m just saying the average parent is spend inordinate amount of time, money, energy, and focus so that your kids will be “successful.” And now what I want you to tell me is what’s your game plan and how focused are you in helping them become “holy?”
Because they get to be thirteen, fourteen, fifteen? If they’ve been on the success deal, it’s pretty, it’s hard to pull that string back in, isn’t it?
Principle number one is the target. You’ve gotta have clear-cut objectives and the objective is: I want my kids - God can determine and I’ll thank Him for it, I’m glad if they can be good, and my kids play different sports, and music, and all the rest but - my mission was, I want them to be Christ-like.
Second, I need to practice what I preach. Third, now that we have the target and we know who the most important teacher is, it happens in an environment. Godly parents build relationships that bond. They build relationships that bond.
It’s not enough. This isn’t mechanical. Like, there’s the target. I want you like Christ. And, by the way, follow me as I follow Christ. You gotta create this environment. This environment of love. This environment where they feel cared for.
And so they build relationships that bond. And what amazes me is how God gives us pictures. The apostle Paul now in I Thessalonians? He’s going to be teaching this church and he’s really close to this church. He has a real love relationship with them.
And what he’s going to do is he’s going to say, “I treated you as a mother,” and then he’ll, moms, this is awesome. If you ever wonder what does God want or think a mother should be? We’re going to read it.
And then he says, “Not only did I treat you as a mother but as a father I did this.” And as a dad I remember reading this for the first time. I did a word study on each of those thinking, “That’s the kind of dad I want to be.”
So how do you build relationships that bond? I Thessalonians chapter 2, look at verse 7. “But we were gentle among you like a mother,” circle “mother,” “caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you, not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well because you had become so dear to us.”
Now what’s a mother do? They’re gentle. “Gentle,” “caring for,” (verse 8) “loved you,” to “share with,” you became “dear” to us. Do you hear the nurture? Do you hear the concern? We were like a mother.
We created that safe place where you mattered. We didn’t do the right things. We shared our very lives, we loved, we cared, we delighted in you.
Now notice he says, skipping down to verse 11 and 12, he says, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father,” you might circle “father,” “deals with his own children.”
Well how does a father deal with his children? “Encouraging, comforting, and urging.” You can underline those three words. “Fathers encourage, comforting, and urging,” notice the goal. “Encouraging and urging you to live lives worthy of God.” Does that sound like a clear-cut target?
Does that sound like I want you to be holy? Does that sound like I want to bring you up to fulfill all God designed and made you to fulfill His agenda on the earth?
He says, “We encouraged you, comforted you, and urged you to live lives worthy of God who calls you into His kingdom in glory.” The first word “encouraging” here? Has the idea of being their cheerleader.
This is the dad and your words are so powerful. There is so much research on the power of fathers. There’s so many things. In my thesis I learned a couple things. Number one, the sexual identity of sons and daughters are most heavily influenced by the father.
Second, the moral development of a child is most heavily influenced by the father. And the self-image is about fifty-fifty, mom and dad. There is this powerful role when a son or a daughter hears, “Way to go. I’m for you. Great job.” There’s something in all of us that wants to please our fathers.
Some of us, as grown men, had to figure that out in our thirties. And realize, you know, we’re never going to get there.
Every man, every son, every daughter wants to hear, “I’m proud of you.” And that’s why when you compliment your kids you need to focus on their character and not just their performance and their accomplishment.
It’s one thing to say, “You’ve worked really hard and I notice your hard work really paid off and you got two out of four hits.” That’s different than, “You went two for four but…” Or, “You know what, honey? You have really worked hard in French. I’ve noticed that you’ve spent extra time and you’ve memorized those words. That perseverance,” notice what you’re praising, “that perseverance is really going to pay off in life.”
And so, I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, think of where you’re sitting in your life right now. Did it really matter in your sophomore year whether you got an A or a B? In any of your job interviews, did anyone go, “Huh, did you get a B+ or a B? I really want to know.”
What are people looking for? They’re looking for character. And so you’re the cheerleader.
The next word is comforting but it’s an interesting word. This same word is also translated “admonish,” “challenge.” In the, you know, the translators here made it “comforting.”
It’s the idea of spurring your child on to right behavior and so sometimes when they’re a little hurting it’s the - Dad: you put your arm around them and say, “Hey, honey, you can do better than that. I’m for you, I love you.”
And when they’re goofing off it’s the – Dad: who says, “Hey, get back up there right now or we’re going to have problems as soon as we get home.” Same word.
It’s what do they need to get back up - but as stronger? The word “urging” is a father going, “There’s a line in the sand. You date that boy one more time that boy’s going to be in real trouble and you’ll be in worse.” And then you know that deep, fatherly voice that looks into their eyes and goes, “And I mean it.” And they realize, “And he does.”
You know some little girls never get that. Some little girls never have a father who is courageous enough to say, “That’s a bad relationship.” Or, “Hey, stop! Young man? Let me tell you something. You speak to your mother in that tone of voice again like that, you’ll be grounded ‘til Jesus comes.” And maybe you’ll back off and only do it for a year or two.
But do you understand? That’s the father who’s stepping in. And guess what? You know what kids need? Kids need that strong, healthy, fear, loving affirmation with that nurturing caring… and then that mother and that father working together. Build relationships that really bond.
The principle of relationship, this isn’t what you say. This is not what they hear at church, or in a Bible study, okay? This is how you actually live.
Because you can say, “Be generous,” but you’re stingy. You can say, “Be morally pure,” but when they go to bed you watch stuff you’d never want them to watch.
Okay? So this is, your actual values that you have. What really matters. Who you are. And then over here on the right is the child’s values and beliefs. Not what they say but how they actually live. What they believe in their heart.
Notice there’s a bridge. And the bridge is the strength of relationship. The stronger the relationship with your child, the more likely they’ll embrace your values and your beliefs. Take it to the bank.
The stronger your relationship with your child. I mean, there’s a bond. There’s a connection. There’s a caring. The higher the probability, no guarantee, but the higher the probability.
The converse of this is the weaker the relationship you have with your child the higher the probability they’ll reject your values.
Highly authoritarian, low-love, get with the program, this is what you gotta do. Tell you what. There’s not a connection, there’s not a bond. Those kids rebel.
We’ll learn a little bit later that it needs to be actually high discipline and high love that produces the boundaries of security in the love of significance.
Third little axiom under this, not only the stronger your relationship, the stronger the probability. The weaker the relationship, the less likely. But tensions and tests and difficulties are normal so it’s a not a matter of if it’s just a matter of when. You’re going to have struggles with your kids. And it doesn’t mean anything is wrong. It means you’re normal, it means they’re going to pull away.
But here’s the deal. What you want to do is you want to be building a bridge of bond and relationship and connection so that when their friends start pulling them away, when they go through that puberty moment and there’s times where some of our kids are like this wonderful kid on Tuesday and, like, Wednesday and Thursday and Friday I guess they went through puberty or something and we’re not really sure.
And then they come out Friday and you think, “What happened?” I mean, it’s like a chamber. You know? And all of a sudden they’re, you know, doing stuff and then you have this conflict in your hands.
Well, what you can’t do is you can’t let that, you gotta stay working on the relationship side of it. You may have to have consequences. Real strong boundaries. But what you can do all along the way is you want to build relationships that bond from the heart.
Let me give you eight specific ways that researchers and the Bible tells us will build those kind of bonds. Eight keys to building relationships that bond.
Number one is unconditional love. Verbalize it and then show unconditional love.
After you discipline them you need to let them know, “I love you. I’m for you. That behavior, I don’t accept but I always accept you.”
Number two. Scheduled time. Schedule in actual times with your kids that carry the same weight as your business meetings or your Bible study meetings. Have them on there. Have scheduled times with your kids. It communicates they matter, they’re on your radar.
Third is focused attention. This means that there’s not media on. This means the paper’s not up. And this means that even though you’re looking at them your mind is not figuring out something at work or what you’re going to cook later or this problem with one of your friends.
You’ve gotta give them focused attention where you ask questions and you’re not thinking, “Hurry up and say this because I gotta get here.”
Put the stupid smart phone down. Turn it off. Set it down. And when you pick up your kid, you know what? If it buzzes, it buzzes. I told you the greatest joys, the greatest sorrows, the greatest gift, and the greatest responsibility you’re going to have on this planet, I’m telling you, is not coming through that phone. It’s the person sitting next to you that you just picked up from school. Or driving back from the ballgame. Or is in tears because they broke up with their first love.
You gotta be there. Focused attention.
Number four. Eye contact. Powerful research. Look them in the eye. If you need to get on their level but look them in the eye. It communicates love.
Number five, meaningful touching. This is why your kids want to wrestle, especially dads. Meaningful touching. Wrestle with them, hold them in non-sexual ways. And for fathers when your daughters kind of begin to bloom and they become young women. And what happens to men is you just unconsciously start to back away. Your daughter has hunger in her heart for a non-sexual, loving, secure, strong, masculine embrace. That’s you. So you need to hug her like never before. You need to hold her close and let her know men can be safe. Men won’t use you.
And what happens is, men, we get uncomfortable as that, especially if it’s your first daughter. She needs to know, man, I love you. You are secure. Meaningful touching. It’s powerful.
Ongoing communication. And that’s the dinner table, bedtime stories, shared experiences. But you have to build in time that’s structured. Where you’re together and communicating. Talking and sharing and meals are just, I don’t know where you’re at but start with maybe two a week. Then move to three a week.
You gotta have something that everyone comes together. There is a reason why, what’s the last thing Jesus did with his disciples? Oh yeah. They ate. What did Jesus do when he wanted to reinstate Peter? Oh yeah. They ate. When we get to heaven what are we going to do? Eat. You think there’s something going on here?
Now, something happens when you break bread and then you push the plates to the middle. How’d it go? And, yes, they’re going to roll their eyes. Let them roll their eyes. Roll your eyes again? Now, tell me, how’s it really going? What did you learn today? What have you been reading? What have you been thinking? Create a culture where that happens.
Have fun together is number seven. That may not sound spiritual. It’s super spiritual. I played more one on one games, and been in the emergency room with my kids, and laughed like crazy, and sat in a pool of sweat and looked up at the sky, and had some of the most meaningful prayer times with my boys of anything in the world.
I’ve sung crazy songs in the car with my daughter, and danced at weddings until I embarrassed my entire family, they just, have fun! Life’s fun! I mean, it’s hard but have fun. Don’t be serious all the time.
And then, finally, pray. Pray together. Pray in the car. Pray along the way. Pray before a meal. Pray when you hear a siren. Pray short prayers. Pray long prayers. Join hands and pray about tough stuff. But pray.
Finally, the last one is very brief, but very important is: godly parenting requires, are you ready for this, constant repair and ongoing maintenance. You never get it right. You never get it down.
You know, I remember when they were little and we decided we were going to reward them, we put these little things on the refrigerator and everyone was behaving for, like, four or five weeks and I thought, “This is it! We’re geniuses. This is it! They do their chores. Star. Chores. Stars. Homework. Oh!” Six weeks later stars didn’t mean anything.
And then you ground them once. Oh, this is powerful. Then, you know, it’s like, “Yeah, I’ll be grounded forever. I’m going to be in my room playing the guitar.” That’s not working. You know, I mean, I mean, whatever you think is working, just wait six weeks or six months. It won’t be working.
And part of it is it’s not them, it’s me. I would be real consistent; they would behave. So it’s kind of like vitamins. You take them and you feel better, why take them? And so I’d get less consistent, right?
And so then I have to bring the whole family together and say, “Okay, Dad has not been a very good dad and when you, sort of, done this and this I say I’m going to do this and I’ve done nothing. I’ve asked God. I’ve told him I’m sorry. And I want to ask you all to forgive me.
And then you sort of say, “And, by the way, there’s a new day. There’s a line in the sand. So if you do that, like, I have not been consistent with, I just want you to know, tomorrow or later tonight that won’t work. I’m on. Daddy’s back.” You know?
And, you know, and it was just like you have to, you understand what I’m saying? You gotta re-up. Don’t companies have to reinvent themselves? It takes constant repair and ongoing maintenance.
And the passage here, I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins He’s faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And I call this the principle of process. Just, it’s a journey. It’s a process. You’re not perfect. They’re not perfect. It’s messy. It’s okay.
Your heavenly Father cares more about your kids than you do. He’s working in all of this. And so here’s five magic words. Not as in occult magic. Just sort of like five sort of magic words that I’ve had to use more than I ever want to admit.
The first two are, “I’m sorry.” The last three are, “Please forgive me.” Some kids never hear that from their mom or dad. I mean, what they did may have been wrong but how I’ve responded to it so many times.
And sometimes, are you ready? We do things wrong. Your kids see through all that. Don’t fake it. Being a great parent, you know, imitate, you know what, you want them to imitate you when you blow it. Guess what? They see the failures. They see the hypocrisy. Just step up and say, “Guess what? I blew it. I’ve said this, this is how I’ve been living, I’ve asked God to forgive me.” And then you just look them in the eye, “I’m sorry.”
And don’t let it go with, “Okay.” No, no, no. “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” And what you want to hear is, “Yes, I forgive you.”
And then you pray with them the way you pray with them when you discipline them. And you know what they learn? They learn they don’t have to be perfect. They learn that failure is never final, that God is a God of grace.
The target, clear-cut objectives, the teacher is you, you practice what you preach, you do it in an environment of relationships that bond. And the final thing is constant repair. You never are done with the journey.