How Imperfect Parents Pass on their Faith
Written by Dan White. Dan is a pastor for Parker Hill at the Clarks Summit Campus. He is a husband to Robyn and a father to Aiden (7), Gavin (4), and Madelyn (3).
Have you ever been carried away by the moment?
Recently, my three-year-old daughter and I were captivated by the nature documentary Planet Earth II. We watched as a baby lizard was chased by predators. I was caught up in the moment. I yelled at the TV, “Run! Run little guy!” (Like my cheering would make any difference). The small lizard momentarily avoided becoming a snake’s lunch. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then the snake snuck up again. This time my little girl started shouting, “Run! Run little guy! Run!” I did a double take at my sweet girl yelling with intense urgency. I don’t know why I was surprised that she is turning into a mini-me.
They say more is caught than taught.
As parents, we can hear this truth of life with a sense of dread. We know our flaws. As a result, we try to hide our mistakes, so our kids don’t inherit the bad parts of us. But that would be the wrong approach.
Parents, you have the honored first place in your child’s life. They care what you think, they’ll copy what you do, and they have a front row seat to so much of you. Here are two ways to leverage your close proximity to produce a genuine faith.
1) Let your awareness of your weaknesses drive you to Jesus.
You can’t give away what you don’t have. If your faith is not personal to you, it won’t be personal to them either. That’s why it’s so vital for you to cultivate a genuine relationship with God.
Everything flows from your connection with God. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” I don’t know much about growing things. But here’s what I do know: plants we don’t care for don’t produce the most fruit.
Make a thriving relationship with God your highest priority. Get up early, put on a show, set up a time when your husband takes over with the kids—whatever it takes to spend some time with your Savior.
The greatest gift you will ever give your family is your walk with God. It’s not about being perfect. It is about being authentic. So when you fall short, fall at His feet. When you don’t feel you can keep going, go to Him for a fill-up. Let your awareness of your weaknesses drive you to Jesus.
Your weaknesses don’t disqualify you as a parent—they show you where you need Jesus. And the grace you get when you are with Him will overflow into your parenting. When you are captivated by God and His grace—your kids will pick up on it!
2) Let your life in-process teach your kids how to process life.
What if you didn’t hide your faults from your kids? What if you courageously and appropriately spoke about your struggles with your children? I think they would catch more from our lives than all the speeches we could ever give.
Here’s what I mean: I love to watch a movie’s bonus features. The finished movie is pretty cool—but seeing how they pulled off that perfect shot or scene is even more interesting to me. Your life is that way too. Just showing your kids your best moments—the highlight reel—may be impressive. But the behind-the-scenes is more informative.
Your kids don’t just need to see the highlights of a godly faith. They need to see the “how-to” of genuine faith. So, let them in behind the scenes to see how God helps you over hurdles, through hardships, and when life hurts.
Help your kids grow a real faith by inviting them into the imperfect process of your faith.
• What better way to show them what forgiveness looks like than to ask them for forgiveness after you blow up in anger?
• What will stick with them more than praying together when you need help paying a bill?
• How will they know what faith looks like when the feelings fade unless you level with them about your journey too?
They say more is caught than taught. Be captivated by God and His grace—and don’t be surprised when your mini-me is too!