Since reading a post from ‘Raising Godly Children’ about “raising little Pharisees” (an excellent post by the way), I have fallen under great conviction. As I read it and my children matched up to the criteria of Pharisees and my parenting style matched up with the criteria of a Pharisee, I was stopped in my tracks. I began re-assessing all kinds of things in our daily life. I began to realize that although my intentions to fill them with the ways of the Lord, the way I was doing it was very wrong. I had done the very thing that God has NOT done with me…made things of the law. Not that I yelled at them all the time (but I am guilty), not that I sacrificed animals with them, not that I never show them love and not that I myself perform spiritual rituals with no true love for the Father. I do love the Lord, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. But I was intensely trying to force them to obey Him because I loved Him…not teaching them in a way that they would obey because they love Him. Now I do believe that my kids love the Lord, but my harsh teaching style when it came to life lessons was probably giving them reason to doubt, AND was not creating repentance in them. It was creating little law abiders. Oh they love the law! Because they are generally good kids and are able to most times fulfill it. And heaven knows they have learned to spot those that are NOT fulfilling it. Little Pharisees.
So I have been trying to take complete inventory of what I’ve taught them and more importantly what I’ve shown them. The way I have let Pharisee law creep into our home is by disciplining them when I was angry. Or disciplining them more when I was frustrated because I was wanting to do something and they were interrupting me. Or by telling them that those that love the Lord follow His rules, so why are they not doing that? …By rating them on their performance. This is hard to write and was even harder to face, because I, being raised on the principal that performance is what counts was trying so hard not to let my kids learn that wicked, never relenting message. Yet here I am almost 10 years into parenting with 2 little Pharisees. Prided when the did right and quick to point out those that don’t. Hearts that were hardening to the gospel because they thought, ‘We’ve got this” since they could follow the law most of the time.
I thought I was giving grace. There are many times I didn’t give what they would deserve. And mercy because I gave them freedom when they didn’t deserve it. But I was so harsh when I did give them consequences, and so harsh when they failed to perform that they were learning the disease I have been fighting against in my own mind, so hard, …all my life…performance based grace.
My inability to see it makes me cry even now. I am so blessed that God has opened my eyes while I have time to change; albeit not much.
I see it so many times in my husband and I both…we are frustrated and will pierce their hearts with how badly they performed; instead of taking the time to teach them and bring their hearts to repentance. Sometimes out of laziness, sometimes out of selfishness, sometimes out of bad insight on how to make them change, but always saying the same thing…you didn’t measure up and somethings wrong with you because of it. Yeah somethings wrong…WITH ALL OF US! It started with Adam and Eve and until my Lord comes for us we will all be wrong in our performance. That why Jesus came. How did I miss this?
My youngest daughter will probably struggle with this more because she is already inclined to self-righteousness by the fact that it is her nature to over-achieve. So like me we can easily think ourselves to be the pride of the Father because we are performing so well. I hate it. I wished so badly I would have fought this ugly monster for her earlier. I know in my own life how hard it is to fight after it’s taken hold. This blog post is the very proof that I don’t even always see it manifesting itself.
And my poor older daughter that is inclined to laziness, possibly because I’ve made it impossible to achieve for her since her nature is not to over-achieve but to enjoy everything she sees around her. Who has time to enjoy when there is so much to be done? (my wretched motto)
I’m broken about this, but also encouraged that the Lord is shining light on it, telling me He has stepped in to change it. I cannot change it. I have failed to do the very thing that I desire the most…to give my girls a love for the Lord that surpasses anything else. To make them realize their value is in God’s love for us, not our own accomplishments.
I love the Lord so much because He has been the only one in my life that did not expect me to perform. He has been the only one I can remember that said, “I just want your heart, nothing more, because I love you just as you are.” All those years I spent trying to prove I was good and worthy to be loved ended in the same place, heart-broken, frustrated and wondering where I hadn’t done enough. A place that would send me into a heel-digging, overachiever, determined to do EVERYTHING PERFECT the next time phase.
Finally I picked up a bible and started reading it. Finally I heard the heart of THE PERFECT ONE and finally He got it thru to me that I needn’t prove myself to Him. Well I say “got it thru,” maybe getting it thru is a more honest statement. Obviously I am still struggling with this performance beast. But thankfully I have the Lord on my side now. So when I end up in this heart-broken, frustrated, and wondering where I haven’t done enough place…I can repent, ask the Lord for help and have hope shine on me…love shine on me, just because He thinks I’m worth it. Broken, sinful me is worth it to Him. And so are my little Pharisees, to both of us.
Please read this with this in mind, God loves us freely. He teaches us kindly. Deals with us patiently. And He values us regardless. Do the same with your children. And pray that God will heal me and mine.