Parenting in Grace


Fathers should create an atmosphere which will make obedience an easy and natural matter, namely, the atmosphere of love and confidence.  

-William Hendriksen

Rules tell us how to obey the one we love, but it’s grace that tells us how to please them. It’s my natural tendency to use Grace as a last resort in my parenting style, instead of leading with it. Grace doesn’t mean letting your kids get away with everything.  I love this example I read recently:

Imagine that on the first day of a new job your trainer gave you only negative instructions. Don t ever be late to work, interrupt the boss during his meetings, use the phone for personal calls You would eventually wonder, What  AM  I supposed to be doing? How do I do my job? We often lead children to the same  exasperation.

Gracious parenting especially applies to correction. Be sure that your children know that you love them  as they are, not as you would like them to be. As a good rule of thumb, ask yourself, What kind of correction is most helpful for  me?


Here are 4 ways Grace should come across in how I parent my children:

  • Tone of my voice when giving correction. Do I yell, raise my voice, or communicate in a demonstrative ways?
  • The feeling I leave my kids with after I’ve corrected their mistake. Do they feel destroyed? Are they left with any hope for being better next time?
  • The next conversation I have, after the correction. How quickly can I move on from my own frustration with their mistake? Can I let our day continue in a graceful way?
  • The attitude I display in the minutes and hours after the correction. Do I find myself holding a grudge the next day? Am I quick to keep them from committing the same mistake again, without giving them a chance to learn?


Spot the Mistake


My kids live in a mistake filled world, and if I’m not careful they could drown in enough mistakes that they can’t tell right from wrong over time. As their parent, it becomes my mission then to adjust the error in a biology teachers opinion about when life begins, correct the low expectations of what their friend says are good qualities in a girlfriend, and showing grace to a neighbor confused about what makes them valuable.

When the people in their schools and the kids in our neighborhood begin to interpret life in ways that are not God-centered, I then have to spot the mistake and correct them. This isn’t about standing on soapboxes and shouting the truth to a random passersby. This isn’t an advocacy for more Christian schools or more church services.

This is me suggesting that we could engage our world in a way that helps our kids begin to define the mistakes all around them, because eventually they’re going to have to do this on their own. The key lays in getting your kids to open up and tell you much of what’s happening in their own lives.

Here are some things we’ve done in our home to try and “Spot the Mistakes

  • Find the times to talk. There are times where we can get our kids to share about school, and neighborhood things. There are also times that don’t work. Find what they are for your kids and then bounce down to this next tip…
  • Ask some questions. Real live questions like: “What were you talking about with them?” I’d suggest you don’t wait til you have teenagers before trying this method. It has to be a question that you sincerely care about the answer, and not an answer you’ll use to later punish them.
  • Don’t act shocked. Your kids will say some things that are crazy. I’m talking crazy on both sides of right and wrong. If you learn to stay calm and listen, I guarantee you that you will eventually have the opportunity to speak truth towards something less than crazy.
  • Know your stuff. Don’t just get good at finding the mistakes, get good as bringing wisdom when it’s needed. Becoming wise, begins with knowing Christ and the ways of the wise. Could I make a parenting suggestion? Read Proverbs. Read it every day. Read it with your kids. Make wisdom like a brother and sister

1 Timothy 1:5-11 // The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love, love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.

It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I ve been put in charge of by this great God.

Make Jesus Matter


In a book I’ve read many times, Parenting Beyond your Capacity, the authors talk about our tendency to treat God like we do the fine china. We only get it down for special occasions. In many of our “Christian” homes, Christ is simply not the most important thing happening. I have often times unintentionally put the emphasis on my childrens behavior to “get what they deserve” instead of using their behavior as yet another excuse to point them to Jesus.

Remember the old hymn? My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. There isn’t any way my kids are going to hear that hymn on any of our music players, but I want them to hear modern version of it in the way I lead them as their parent.

  • It’s reminding them they need His forgiveness more than they need my forgiveness.
  • It’s how I treat them as their father, knowing that I’m the first impression of God as father they will have.
  • It’s not letting my problems with their behavior affect our relationship.
  • It’s using their mistakes as the opportunity to talk about my own mistakes, and how Jesus saves from having to be perfect.

When I make Christ the most important, then I explain to my kids at every turn how they can see Jesus. Yes, I want them to obey, but I also want them to bring their problems to the one that asked for them…Jesus. I don’t want to create a home that makes it harder for my kids to find Jesus than he already is outside of my home.


Matthew 11:29-30 Come to me. Get away with me and you ll recover your life. I ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you ll learn to live freely and lightly.


Knowing When to Move On


“Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that’s more productive.”

— Donald Trump, entrepreneur, television personality and author.

Donald Trump is not a voice that many parents pay much attention to, but his reputation is much more valued in the business world. I think that much of what he’s saying with this quote applies to us as parents, as much as it’s intended audience of business leaders.

As parents, we hate see our kids struggle to do the things we’re asking them to do. We hate losing and we keep fighting until they do it the ‘right way.’  Too many times we are guilty of continuing to raise the expectations with our kids on the things they struggle with the most. But not every fight is worth the time. The key is to try and remember the big story being written throughout your kids life.

Accepting the reality that they are not great at math may be hard for some of us. It may be hard to admit that your middle kid isn’t the reader that his big brother is, or maybe you’re dealing with that left-handed kid that hates baseball. I’m not suggesting you throw in the towel with your kids progress. I’m suggesting that you evaluate how important what you’re expecting them to do really is. If you’re kid struggles to tell the truth…then keep fighting for honesty. However, if they struggle with something inconsequential, then walk away from what’s not working and find something that could be more productive for their life.

Discover a new talent that maybe doesn’t come as natural to you, but comes seamlessly to him or her. Find those few things that your kid is great at, and jump on that bandwagon. Learn to parent from a perseverance perspective, and step out of the stubborness.


I’ve learned that there’s a big difference between perseverance and stubbornness. Stubbornness involves me forcing things to work, while perseverance requires me to work consistently with what’s already working. Some of the best decisions I’ve made involved saying no to a potential partnership or pulling the plug on a product that wasn’t working.

Read more:

Making Community Matter


I’m an advocate of making our big churches smaller by focusing on the circles we live in, not the rows we sit in. I also  I think it’s a great thing for my children to see me in meaningful community with others.

It’s a responsibility of mine to work hard to make this big world, as small as possible for my kids. I want them to see that I value my relationships with others, I want them to hear me on the phone with a friend, I want them to know that on Wednesday nights we leave them with a sitter because Wednesday nights is OUR night with our community group. I need them to know that I need relationships with others.

I’ll admit, this has been a struggle for us over the years. So often, community fell to the side because my job had me working 8 days a week. Our relationships would cycle up and down like the weather; a few friends here and there. Having just recently established the principle of sharing our lives with others, we’ve seen the benefit of our kids have gained.


They value their own group time talking with people they trust. They have a small group time at church, and now they see their parents doing much of what they are doing each week.


They regularly interact with adults and other families because of our relationships discovered in community. They meet new people, and expand their own relationships because of our relationships.


These are just a few of the ways that community in front of my kids has proven to be important in our family. Today, I’m choosing to make community matter by living community out in front of my kids.