Most adults can probably look back to a time when they truly believed their fathers (always) knew best, and were infinitely smarter and stronger than everyone else’s dad. Eventually, though, we’ve all become disillusioned, to some extent, with the reality of our imperfect parents. So will our kids. Sure, it’s an ego boost for us as parents to put up a façade and let them think we’ve got it all together — and that we always have — for as long as humanly possible. But I’m not sure that’s really going to help us achieve biblical goals.
Realistic Expectations (for All Humanity)
When we promote false assumptions about ourselves, we help set our kids up to develop false expectations about us as well as about themselves and others. They need to understand that all people are imperfect, and even depraved. We are not omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), or immutable (unchangeable) either. We are the creation, not the Creator, and as such, we are only “dust” (Psalm 103:14). In light of such a realization, we’ll be poised to point our kids to the God who is all of those things we strive to be and wish we were, and imagine others to be. In light of our faltering humanity and sinfulness, His holiness and other perfections shine all the more brightly, offering hope that they will truly be “dazzled” with the reality of Christ!
Right Emphasis (on Growth, Not Ideals)
I once thought there was a certain plateau I would reach in my walk with God that would earn me the title “mature Christian.” Now, I’m not sure it exists. Scripture seems to place the emphasis on growth (2 Peter 3:18) rather than on achievement, on confession and repentance, not on our perceived absence of sin. In fact, those who believe themselves to be sinless, are often self-deceived. As a result, they’re actually less in tune with God’s Word and in a far worse position spiritually, than those who acknowledge and repent of their sins, recognizing their need for God’s grace and mercy in their lives.
Relational Encouragement (Based on Past Failures)
Rare is the family, church, or community of any kind that practices confessional living, the kind that James 5:16 encourages. While the book of Hebrews makes it clear that Christ is the only intercessor we need to confess our sins to God, the New Testament never contradicts Proverbs 28:13 — “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Many Christians deal with continual guilt and fear that comes with well-hidden past sins. They insist that babies born out of wedlock were simply “premature,” that they were never even tempted with the kinds of sins their kids commit. When we relinquish our pride and admit our sinfulness, we do more than put ourselves in a good place: We provide a resource for our kids when they fail, because they know we’ve made mistakes, too.