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Raising Passionate, Not Perfect, Kids

ftf.passionate.perfectDo you ever wish you had a sure-fire way to guarantee that your children followed God? Some magical prayer you could pray, or a striking statement you could utter in their presence that would make the light bulb go on and cause them to think, “I want to live my life for Christ and stay far, far away from sin each and every moment.”

That would be really nice.

And easy.

And convenient.

Nearly a quarter-century of parenting, while searching for such a prayer or statement, has convinced me such supernatural expressions don’t exist. However, I have learned a few truths about raising kids who love God.

Once upon a time, I thought there was a secret recipe for cranking out perfect kids. I observed families who had very polite, outwardly obedient, and seemingly flawless offspring.

It wasn’t until some of these kids grew up, and we began to interact with them as adults, that we realized they, too, had struggled with sin as teens. Some of them were involved in secret, serious sins while still maintaining an outward shell of perfection: no expression of interest in the opposite sex, going to church religiously, winning Bible verse memory drills, and never listening to anything other than “Hymns Greatest Hits.”

I no longer want to have “perfect” kids. I want to have kids who love God with all their hearts and who know where to go with their brokenness; who do not cover up sin, pushing it further down into plastic personalities, but who are vulnerably willing to share their struggles, finding victory in the One who has already defeated sin once and for all.

So, here are some simple things I’ve learned — usually the hard way — that help to raise passionate, not perfect, kids:

Tell your kids about your struggles with sin, both when you were their age and today.

Say you are sorry when you hurt or offend them, and encourage them to do the same to those in their lives.

Do not freak out when they tell you of a struggle they are having, no matter how high it may register on your parental  “Freak-O-Meter.”

{Okay, well I am still working on that one}.

My husband is so calm. I still panic wondering, “What will the church ladies think?” forgetting that even the church ladies still sin.

And please note, I am not talking about the actual ladies at my home church or any other church I’ve ever belonged to per se. For the love of Pete, the women at my home church watched our youngest son get baptized with a Mohawk, and they treated him like he was a young Billy Graham! (The Mohawk is a football thing. And yes, I gave it to him. Please still love me.)

Watch for spiritual mimicking.

This same son who got baptized had asked several times in the past to get baptized before. When we asked him why, it was always because “Benji” or “Caleb” was doing it.

Sorry. Not the right answer.

The last time he asked we inquired about his reason. It was because of an encounter he had on a missions trip with a homeless man that forever changed his life. He decided he wanted publicly to profess his faith in Jesus. Right answer.

Realize it is about redemption, not perfection.

This can be very hard to do if you are around a lot of  ‘perfect’ people who are not transparent with their faith.

If you have a choice between hanging out with believers who seem perfect — those with no struggles or admission of temptation/sin, who verbally question others’ Christian walk, and who always have a perfunctory ‘Praise the Lord’ rolling off their lips — or — with believers who are transparent and wildly in love with God, who share their struggles and lean hard into Jesus and God’s word, and who search for biblical answers while also challenging you to do the same…

Uhhh…hello? Pick door number two!

Realize your kids will no longer sin when you as a parent no longer do. 

And finally…

Don’t talk to your kids about God; instead talk to God about your kids.

Now here’s a seemingly backwards piece of advice! Don’t preach at them? Don’t lecture, tossing in ten Bible verses for added effect?


Of course there is a time and place for telling scriptural truths to your kids. But there also times God might want us to hush up and pray. They might listen better to His voice whispering quietly to their hearts, than to ours trying to speak for Him through a badgering megaphone.

Yes, pray for your children daily. If you don’t, then who will?

Passionate. Not perfect. As parents, that goal should be our constant aim.




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  1. I so needed this today we are at university orientation for my second child. I’m not ready to let him go… He struggles with feeling loved, he so wants what he perceives as freedom. Sometimes I feel like I neglect praying for my other children because I’m praying for him. Please pray for my family

  2. Such excellent wisdom. Tell your children you struggle with sin. Seek forgiveness. Don’t freak out. It’s good to hear these words…exactly what the Lord has led me to do in our family for many years. There’s no formula…just the gospel. Love, no matter what.

  3. I think you and I would be best friends!!!! I am the mom of 7. My Mob is rough around the edges, but Jesus isn’t looking at the edges! Oh the stories I could tell you and the judgement of some other moms who have seemingly, pristine children, who run right to their mom if one of mine say an “off color” comment to me(which I allow because it’s funny and Jesus doesn’t think that’s a bad word, plus that’s the way we joke around here). So that mom makes sure to tell me she would never allow her teen to joke with her that way! Ugh!! Rough edges…. But, yes there’s a but….my same kid is going on his 2nd mission trip because he fell so in love with Jesus and the people of Jamaica….same kid, who couldn’t speak in public, gave his testimony in front of both campuses after the first mission trip, which softened his older, introverted brother (Rough edger) into going this year! Same kid also now leads prayer after most of his baseball games (where the judging kid plays as well). My kids are rough around the edges, they are, but they come to me with humility and repentance when they stumble, knowing I won’t freak. I have learned the same as you in my quarter century of motherhood and these kids are lovers of Christ…passionate…NOT PERFECT!
    Blessings!! ??

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