If you are a father, you probably know this situation well. You have had a long and hard day at work, so your nerves are on edge from the moment you drive into the garage. As you open the door to the house, the commotion of shrieks and squeals from the kids immediately assault your ears. Time has yet to reveal whether these are sounds of joy or fighting.
You are trying to be kind. You’re trying to be patient. Then one of your children’s questions hits the wrong nerve, and you lose your temper. You angrily ask your child to, “At least wait until I set my briefcase down!” Or perhaps, “We have been over this a thousand times!”
The words are no sooner out of your mouth than you see big eyes welling up with tears. It hits you like a ton of bricks…I did it again.
Responding to Failure
How will you respond to your failure? Will you just walk away, pretending nothing happened? Will you try to excuse your sin by telling your family, “It’s just been a hard day.”
Or will you say the all important phrase, “Daddy needs to ask your forgiveness.”
Fathers, listen carefully: all dads need to ask forgiveness from their kids when they sin against them. This isn’t because your family is confused as to whether or not you are actually guilty. Your wife knows you sinned. Your kids know you sinned. They want to know that you know you sinned.
An Encouragement in Failure
Let me encourage you, in that moment of failure, kneel down, look your child in the eye, and admit you need forgiveness. Something like this would be a good place to start:
- Daddy sinned.
- Daddy sinned by [specific words and actions].
- I want you to know that even though Daddy struggles in this area, God will never treat you this way.
- Daddy needs Jesus’ grace for everything in life, just like you do.
- Will you please forgive me for [this specific sin]? I want to be more like God!
- Will you pray that God will help me see victory in this area in the future? (perhaps for older children or teens)
Fathers, when you humble yourself in this way, you reveal to your family that you are seeking to be more like Christ. When you respond to your sin in this manner, you are setting a pattern for your entire family for how they should respond when they sin.
Planning for Future Victory
One question still needs to be answered. How do I set myself up for victory in this area for the future?
- Pray on your way home from work that you will exemplify the character of God to your children.
- Do not get out of your car until you have died to yourself and your selfish ambitions for the evening have been sacrificed on the altar of service.
- Enter into your house ready to love and ready to serve.
May God give us the grace to be humble fathers who point our families to Christ.