As Christian parents we know we need to correct and train our children. There is one key spiritual discipline that can help us do that well.
What is one thing that you always do, everyday? Brush your teeth? Make your bed? There are certain rhythms of our day that we do without much effort or thought. Have you ever thought of including confession as a daily practice? As Christian parents, who are trying to address the heart underneath behaviors, this is essential.
The importance of confession
In Matthew 7:3-5 we read:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
What does this have to do with parenting?
On a daily basis, we are correcting and training our children. As we should (Ephesians 6:4). But without the regular practice of confession and self-examination, we can become like the Pharisees who followed every rule, created impossible standards for God’s people, but were blinded to the brokenness inside of them.
The importance of regular confession for parents
You may wonder of the plank in the eye passage applies to parents and children. I believe it does. Jesus gave this instruction along with a series of instructions for godly living and fellowship. It is known as the Sermon on the Mount. He taught his disciples while a large group of people listened in. The disciples were the intended recipients of this message. So when Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” it’s not the crowds he is talking about. It is his representatives who go out and do his work to make a difference.
Likewise, when Jesus says to take the speck out of their own eye, he was talking to his closest followers- the very people he was training to go out into the world and “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). As Christian parents, that is our job too. We are to make disciples. Not “out there.” But under our very own roof.
So how can we share the gospel with our kids in such a way that we create a culture of discipleship? By following the instructions that Jesus gave his disciples: humility and self-examination. To take a moment every day to look inside our own hearts, ask God to search it, and to reveal anything that needs his healing hand (Psalm 139:23-24).
How to examine your heart
Here are some questions that you can use to examine your heart so you can begin to see the planks in your own eye:
- When do I usually lose my temper? What did my heart desire in those moments?
- Are there areas where I struggle for control out of fear or shame?
- What is at work in my heart that keeps me from correcting and restoring my child with a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1)?
- What emotions are generally hard for me?
- Are there sin areas in my life that I am reluctant to turn over to God?
Here are some prayers or “conversation starters” as you reach out to God and seek His gentle correction:
- Holy Spirit, show me where there is sin in my heart (Job 13:23)
- Lord, create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51:10)
- Father, I am struggling with _________. It is a hard area for me to gain victory over. Teach me how to pick up my cross and follow you (Luke 14:27), knowing that you walk with me.
- Forgive me, Lord.
- Thank you for your forgiveness that cleanses me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)
Be kind to yourself
This is a daily, ongoing process. But it does not need to be done in shame or guilt. Hebrews 4:16 says that we can draw near to God – even in our brokenness – and there we will find mercy and grace to help is in our times of need.
God is “spring-loaded” to forgive. He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. Let’s let him in to restore and to heal.
Confession is one of the most powerful tools Christian parents have. It allows you to recognize that you and you children suffer from the same heart disease. From that even playing ground, you will be in a better position to parent them with humility and gentleness.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.