Our homes become places of discipleship when we lead them to be places where grace is experienced on a regular basis. By grace, I don’t mean letting the kids do whatever they want. That would not turn out good for any of us. We need relationships with our children that remind them of the grace that has been given to us by Jesus.
In the Old Testament it was actually an expectation that fathers be ready to remind their children of the grace of God. Deuteronomy 6:20-21 says,
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”
Grace. God took the initiative and did for the people of Israel what they were unable to do for themselves. So, when those in our families ask us things like, “Why should we do what God tells us to do?” “Why should I live by the Bible?” “Why should I love my enemy?” We need to be ready to answer with our words and lives. Our kids need to be regularly reminded that we live the way God asks us to live because of the grace of the cross. We choose to treat one another in certain ways because of the way we were treated by Jesus. Grace. Jesus did for us what we were unable to do for ourselves.
So how can we mirror the grace that has been given to us by Jesus in our families?
One thing we can do is show our children that we, as parents, need grace.
Another way to think about it is that we need to be parents who take the initiative to ask for forgiveness from our children. Admitting to our children that we are wrong does not threaten our authority as parents. It actually strengthens the bond of love and trust. It gives them an example to follow.
Recently one of my kids made a choice that was less than great. It wasn’t terrible but it was not wise. I was frustrated and let my emotions drive my response too much. I had reasons to be concerned but I approached it wrong. As a result, I hurt my child. I messed up and we both knew it.
I did exactly what the Apostle Paul told us not to do when he wrote in Ephesians 6:4, , “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” (MSG)
Here is where modeling grace came in. It wasn’t so much that I needed to give grace but that I needed to receive grace. I could have let it go and moved on. I could have used my parental authority as an excuse to justify my response. That would have been much easier on my pride. But it would have also been unloving. I would not be modeling Christ.
Here is the thing, my kids need to know that their dad is aware and willing to admit his imperfections. They need to know that I am still a work in progress. They need to know that there are moments when I need something that I don’t deserve. They need to see me humble myself. They need to know that there is something that I can’t provide for myself. Grace. They need to know that I love them enough to admit my mistakes to them. They need to hear me say, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
And I need their grace.
When we model grace through asking our kids for forgiveness we:
- Create a home that makes it ok to admit mistakes.
- Create opportunities to point to the grace we need from Jesus.
- Teach our kids how to admit their wrongs and ask for forgiveness.
- Build deeper trust and intimacy in our family.