As the Director of Family Ministries, I feel as though I should display an image of someone who has a great deal of insight into how families should interact with one another and pursue God together. However, I have no wisdom to impart other than that which the Lord has laid on my heart in those times where I have needed a word of encouragement and truth. I am beyond passionate about equipping others to have a deeper relationship with God and yet I stumble through life…daily. I cannot be an effective family minister if I am not first completely transparent about my own struggles and fears.
I have an 11 year old daughter and I worry daily that she is going to one day have her own family and have nothing to draw from in her relationship with God because I failed to be the perfect role model for her. Will she only remember the mistakes I have made in my life? Is she going to be a juvenile delinquent and start doing drugs because I fell asleep in the middle of our “quality time” yesterday? Will she grow up resenting me because I didn’t take the time to show an interest in her favorite sport by not playing volleyball with her in the backyard? Little does she know it is because I am TERRIFIED of the ball hitting me in the face. She had to pick the one sport that I despise above all others. I have PTSD from my childhood every time I see that round ball of death flying in my general direction. Seriously, it should be illegal in all 50 states. Volleyball ruins lives. But, I digress.
One day, a few years back, I was fixating on my imperfections and failures as a mother when God brought a thought into my mind that sticks with me to this day. Jesus was the perfect teacher, the perfect father figure to his disciples and yet they still made mistake after mistake in their lives. They were being ministered to and taught by God himself and they still made bad choices. My point is that even if we were the most perfect parents on the planet, our children are still human and they WILL make mistakes. They WILL struggle with strongholds in their lives. But, you want to know the good news? God already knows this. That is the very reason he sent his son…to free us from the penalty of our sins so that we can love others in the way he loves us.
Matthew 9:12-13 states, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” God knows our struggles and temptations. He knows that the things of this world can entangle us and cause us to lose sight of Him and his love for us. So, he calls us to minister to one another and help each other to find our way back to him. How does he do this? By using those who can empathize with specific weaknesses that others are struggling with. He turns our sins and our mistakes into blessings for others. He uses our failures to enable us to show mercy to others and to love them through us.
Jesus knew what it felt like to be tempted by all the things that we are tempted by and the things we struggle with – anger, fear, frustration, stress, hunger, etc. He dealt with many difficult situations during his time on earth and he never gave into sin. But, he is able to fully empathize with how hard those things are to turn away from and has mercy on us. He came here to fully understand our struggles, to love us and teach us about God’s saving grace, and then died for us because of our weaknesses and his mercy and grace toward us…his desire to save us from the penalty of those mistakes.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
Our children don’t need perfection from us. They just simply need to know they are loved. They need to be listened to and heard. They need us to reflect God’s love and grace onto them. Does that mean that we are perfect at all times? No. Does that mean that we should never make mistakes in front of them? No. Those are opportunities to show them that no one is perfect…and that’s ok. What matters is how we grow and learn from our mistakes.
God has “not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”