In my experience, the greatest temptation I have faced in over 10 years of ministry is the temptation to become proud. This is not only sinful and wrong, it’s also extremely counter-productive as: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6).
Literally, pride puts you on a collision course with God (and there’s only one winner there!) whereas humility plugs you into the power source of His amazing grace. Every day I face an epic battle to decrease so that God might increase in me. Which is why my kids have been such a phenomenal blessing to me…
…cos no one keeps me humble like my kids!!
1. My kids are mini versions of me!
I don’t really get how DNA works, I just know that I can see traces of both me and Michelle in all our kids (it’s been suggested that they get their looks and intelligence from their mum and their mischief from me!) I’ve also heard it said that kids are a product of their environment, so what they see and hear in the home influences them. Sometimes this blesses the socks off me, like when Josiah spontaneously says grace before breakfast or when Elen starts making up her own rap lyrics. But other times…it can be horrifying, like when Josiah erupts into a violent tantrum – it’s like looking at my aggressive past in realtime! The truth is that while I love my kids to bits (and I think they’re turning out pretty well, even if I do say so myself!) they are all little sinners who daily remind me of my own sin. It can be like looking in a mirror that never lies sometimes…
2. My kids are like elephants – they NEVER forget!
Broken promises. Inconsistent parenting. That time I let them down (again!)…my kids have detailed files. Ironically, while they can’t remember where they put their favourite toy on any given day, they have no such problem laying hold of the files of dad’s mistakes and when it comes to pulling them out they’re ruthlessly trigger-happy!
“Dad, remember when you said_________ and it never happened?!”
“Well you did _________ last time so you’ll probably do it again!”
Clearly they still need a bit of help in grasping the concept of “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (1Cor13v5). In the meantime, however, I get to share a home with 4 living, breathing, merciless commentators on the sin in my life. While I could choose self-defence or denial, I choose instead to acknowledge my sin, face up to my sin, confess my sin and deal with my sin so that my kids get to see what true repentance looks like.
3. I get to read the Bible with my kids
I do 2 quiet times per day. The first (in the morning) is me, God and my trusty ESV. The second (in the evening) is me, my kids and one of their vast array of children’s Bibles. Reading Scripture with my kids is always one of the highlights of my day. It’s such a privilege to read it with them, answer their precious, innocent questions and help them to apply the truth they’re reading! However, I’d be doing a bad job if I wasn’t daily helping them to see that ultimately the Bible reveals their own sin and their desperate need of a Saviour. So as I explain these things to them, I’m daily reminded that I too am a sinner, saved by scandalous grace and as much in need of Jesus today as I was when I was saved 19 years ago!