Parental Failures and the Gospel

I could begin this post with countless descriptions of my parental failures. Moments when anger got the best of me; times when a little patience would have made all the difference; or just plain insecurities in making the right decisions for my children at every moment and at every stage of their development.

You might agree that feelings of inadequacy are common to parents; whether relatively new like me or seasoned with experience, we feel the weight of the responsibility and the immensity of the task.

Yet feelings of inadequacy can sometimes be a blessing. For one, I’m more likely to rest in my abilities when feeling self-assured but will seek direction when uncertain. This has been the case in my parenting. My lack of confidence has made prayer my "best parental tool." I find myself praying often – not merely out of command – but out of a real need.

And this picture reflects the Gospel. At the heart of the Good News is the admission of ones inability before a gracious and able God. The Gospel has nothing to do with your ability to get it right. Rather it is the recognition of God’s demand for perfect righteousness in the face of your inability to satisfy that demand (Genesis 6:5; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23). What makes the Good News so incredible is that God freely imputes the very righteousness that He requires of you.

Christ’s righteousness is credited to those who cling in trust to Him and not to the pretense of their own goodness (Ephesians 2:1-10). I see this illustrated beautifully in the Luke 18:9-14 parable. This is one of my favorite stories told by Jesus. There we find a tax collector in the temple. We watch as he hangs his head, beats is chest and prays “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” Jesus tells us that this man goes home justified and not the Pharisee who boasts of himself in prayer, confidently trusting in his own works before God.

I often feel inadequate as a parent and I thank God for it!  For it drives me to lower my head, bend my knees and seek His perfect strength in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The blessing is not in the weakness or inadequacy itself but in the humility it offers that draws me nearer to God for help--which then increases my dependence and confidence in the One who  works in me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow!

*An updated version of this post can be found at the Reformed African American Network.