Why Our Children (And Others) Need to See Us as a Work-In-Progress

“Please go to your room so Mommy can change your diaper.”

He looks at me and then hurries in the opposite direction. “Let me get my legos first. And bear. And. . .”

I hear plinking on the piano, which he happened to see on his quest for diaper-changing buddies.


It’s easy to get offended, “How dare he disobey his mother. His own mother!” rather than see the behavior as part of his sin nature.

It’s easy to get angry and respond in a demanding tone, rather than take the time to instruct and discipline. (Especially in his moments of desperation when he shouts, “No. I won’t,” to my face.)

And then I realize how often I do the same in my relationship with God. Sometimes, it’s a direct “no” when I sense His conviction. Often, it’s a fake obedience of excuses.

I know I need to give the worry and stress over my broken washing machine to God, but I just can’t let it go. I think I’ll feel better if I worry about it a little longer, talk to other people about how stressed it’s making me, and then I can surrender it to God and feel free to accept His peace…

But what if it was my fault that the washer broke? Maybe I’d better worry about it a while more, so I can feel as bad as I should…

Hiding From Grace

It’s hard to give grace to our children and others in our lives when we choose to ignore the root of sin buried deep in all of us, (or at least try to cover it up so that people will think we have it all together).

It’s easy to take on an I’m-your-mother-so-you’ll-do-what-I-say attitude or to be proud when I don’t fall into sins I see others commit…

And then a second later feel like a complete failure after responding in harshness and anger to my son in Food Lion and other people have the chance to judge me.


Sometimes the energy it takes to “bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord” feels too tiring to be worth it.

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson in their book, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus, remind us to, “embrace your weakness and the difficulties of parenting because they are the means that the Lord will use to acquaint you with the realities of his gracious power.” (p. 155)

God never commanded us to be perfect parents. And He never asked us to pretend for our children or anyone else that we are.

For me, daily discipline often feels like I’m walking through a dark sewer tunnel, feeling my way around the slime as I make decisions and not always being sure that I’m going the right way.

Sometimes I’ve wished for specifics from God like, “This is the way he should be punished if he doesn’t obey by the count of three.”

Like following step-by-step directions on the back of a brownie box.

But then I realize how I’d still struggle with consistency, trying to find my worth in my ability to keep to the standards given.

In Give Them Grace, the author quotes author Paul Miller who wrote, “I came to realize that I did my best parenting by prayer. I began to speak less to the kids and more to God.” (p. 135)

Melissa Kruger, in her Biblestudy on Motherhood shares that, “When impatience, anger or discontent well up in our hearts, these are signs that we are mothering in our own strength. Rather than dealing only with our outward behavior, we need the Lord to renew and recharge our hearts. Just as a cell phone loses power and needs to be recharged, our souls find renewed energy only by abiding in Jesus.” (p. 33)

Beautiful Discipline

We have the gift of being parented by the perfect Parent. In Hebrews 12:10, the author reminds us that, “God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” The training God does in us produces a “harvest of righteousness.”


As we enjoy the benefits of sharing in God’s holiness and righteousness, we can invite our children into the peace of that as well, experiencing glimpses of life as it was created to be.

And when we feel like we’ll never get it right, Melissa reminds us in her Biblestudy chapter on “PMS—Perfect Mom Syndrome” that, “Any failure that I fear is covered by His sacrifice. In Jesus, the performance pendulum stops—both the pride of success and the despair of failure are absorbed by grace (p.208).

As we admit our mistakes and accept the forgiveness Christ has earned on our behalf, we can show our children their inability to obey perfectly, so that they too, can see their need for Jesus.

We can pray with our children for God to help us obey His commands, just as God has asked them to obey ours as His agents.

When we live our lives in a rhythm of grace—failing and accepting forgiveness, we are free to rest in His satisfaction and security, no matter who is watching.

Maybe observing our mistake is just what someone needs to learn what God wants to teach them.

Maybe our children need to see us vulnerably embracing God’s grace to know that they can do the same.

Will you allow your parenting insufficiencies and failures to guide you into a deeper dependence on Jesus?

Will you let Him use your mistakes as a way to point others to His glory and perfection?

3 thoughts on “Why Our Children (And Others) Need to See Us as a Work-In-Progress

  1. Almost every time I read one of your posts with a book reference, I’m like, “Add this to my reading list.” I am not quite to disciplining yet with my little guy but you’ve hit on points I’m always thinking about!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! I feel like in each stage of my son’s life there are new things to learn about depending on the Lord. As we prepare for the arrival of our daughter in the next week, I’m needing constant reminders that Jesus’ presence is with me and will be with me as we transition.

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