Laying Down the Pharisee in My Parenting

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The truth is I find myself parenting out of a heart of a Pharisee more often than I’d like. I sometimes lecture my daughter or impose a consequence after her wrongdoing with the attitude of, “I’ve got this all together”, when really, I’m in need of God’s grace just as much as she is.

Yesterday my daughter was struggling with gratitude (to put it lightly). I couldn’t seem to find the right words to lecture her with or the appropriate consequence, because what stared me in the face was the truth that I can’t ultimately change her heart. While consequences are often necessary, true discipleship is the pathway to a changed heart. But suddenly the mirror that reflected back to me was two mornings prior when I myself woke up with a similar lack of gratitude, cranky and down, lamenting over all the things I didn’t have.

I wanted to figure out how to feel thankful, but I opened the Bible and was reminded that it doesn’t say to FEEL thankful, it says to BE thankful (Colossians 3:15), and to GIVE THANKS (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And as simple as the exercise seemed, I began to write down all the things I was thankful for. And I pulled that chart back out yesterday and showed my daughter. I told her not only was I born without a thankful heart, but sadly, many mornings as an adult I don’t wake up thankful either. I told her that God knows our hearts, and He knows that the instruction to be thankful-to literally thank God for all that He has done- is for the lifting of our ungrateful hearts.

We prayed together, asking God to change our hearts and to help us grow in gratitude. And then there we were, mommy and daughter, sinner next to sinner, both of us in need of God’s grace, drawing our charts and thanking God for all that He had given us and done. What started out as her complaining, “Mommy do I really have to come up with 20 things?”, turned into the complaint of, “Mommy, I’m running out of room on my paper!” As it turns out, giving thanks often turns to feeling thankful. We finished our exercise with laughter and joy, a memory that will remain etched in my mind as God using my significantly flawed parenting to demonstrate His perfect parenting.

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I’m learning to parent not simply through the lens of my child’s brokenness but also through the lens of my own, because it transforms my parenting from the heart of a self-righteous Pharisee into a sinner who is lovingly instructing another sinner toward our perfect Savior.

ParentingKristin Nave