One of my goals in being a father is to instill confidence in my children. I heard a successful man once say “My parents built so much confidence in me that I thought I could do anything.”
Isn’t it such a blessing to think of parents doing everything they can to put their children in position to be as successful as possible? Isn’t it kind of a given that parents want what is best for their children?
Well in many ways I am still learning and growing on how to do this most effectively, but one thing I am focused on is complimenting them and praising them. I want my children to know that I am watching. I want my children to feel that I care about what they are doing. I want my children to experience me celebrating their accomplishments with them. So in big things and small things, I let them know when I am proud of them.
When JJ catches the ball with his hands. When Eli writes his name well. When Noah stays in bed without getting up. Or when JJ rides his bike well. Or when Eli learns to jump off something. Or when Noah climbs up the slide. All of these things are to be celebrated. And our children gain confidence and courage when they know we are proud of them. Some of the biggest smiles and “cheeses” I have ever seen as a parent, have been when I have jumped up cheering because I am so proud of their growth and success.
Well, a while back, Eli and I were walking together. And I was telling him how proud I was of him. I had a list of things. He is doing great. His running and throwing and climbing and jumping are all improving. (Eli is only 3 yet he is as big as his 5 year old brother. So he often feels bad about not being as agile as JJ. ) Not only those things, but I was also praising Eli for how obedient he had been lately. He is indeed growing up and minding me and Valeria better. And we have recognized that. So as we were walking, I took the time and was intentional about telling him how proud I am of him. He turned and looked up at me and smiled that awesome-Eli-grin like only Eli can do. As if to say, it means the whole world to me to know you are proud of me. We kept walking.
Then about 20 seconds later, Eli said something that stopped me. He said, “yeah Daddy, but I still have my sins.”
My whole mind raced as I bounced through many thoughts, both good and bad: Bible Answer: “yes you do son, we all sin.” Prideful -Ignorant-Parent Answer: “No, you don’t son. You’re an angel.” Pointless-Unhealthy Answer: “Don’t say that son! Its alright. Don’t worry about it.” Reality-Check-I-want-to-be-a-good-godly-parent-answer: “uhh, well.”
Then as I gathered myself and was ready to handle this memorable-parenting-moment, I realized that Eli is right on target. I was reminded of 1 John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” And John 8:7 “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And Psalm 130:3 “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” There is that balance to life. Eli is doing a lot of things well. But he also has some things he needs to improve on. And regardless of how good you get at many things, you best not neglect your sins.
So here is how I responded to Eli: “You’re right Eli. You do still have your sins. But remember, we will never be finished sinning. And that is why we need Jesus. Remember, why did He die?”
Eli replied: “He died for my sins.”
I continued: “Thats right! We do still have our sins. But we trust in Jesus. He died for our sins. And He forgives us of our sins when we believe in Him. But remember, I am still proud of you. You are doing well in many areas.”
Eli smiled again and shook his head in agreement.
And while I am working hard to encourage, build up, and instill confidence in my children. They are doing well at teaching me the basic truths of life. “But I still have my sins.”