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If the title hasn't clued you in yet, this is post is a guest post from my friend, Chip Mattis. I'm drowning in all the work of caring for my new baby & running our new non-profit Finally Family Homes, so I'm grateful to have such a gifted writer step in and write a guest post.
Chip is a husband and father of three, and a great writer. Chip just published his first children's picture book, "Under the Dancing Tree" inspired by the deeper understanding of God as Father that he experienced himself as a father. I'm sure you'll enjoy this post and his wonderful book!
When Parenting Becomes Real
by Guest Author Chip Mattis
I read a lot of books and had a lot of conversations about parenting, but the reality of being a dad was much different. Instead of a theoretical baby, in 2008 I was suddenly holding a tiny, real-life little girl.
My oldest is a textbook first-born. She carries the responsibility of the family on her shoulders (when she shouldn’t), and she’s so hard on herself. My son is tender-hearted but pensive. He needs instruction away from the moment, and he needs to fully understand why something is done or needed. My youngest is dramatic. She needs firm boundaries and clear consequences but mingled with tender reassurance of her value.
Many of these elements were things we learned from others, but none of them represents a parenting style we hold to. Each of our children needs a different approach, and it’s my responsibility to love each of them, not just all of them. Parents that create firm systems where all their kids are treated identically miss the mark and can end up breaking their relationship with the kids down.
Gratitude is the antidote to entitlement, necessary to contentment, and a precursor to generosity.
Plus, who doesn’t want a gracious, thankful, and content child? I know I do. So I spent a week trying to discuss & direct my kids' focus in regards to gratitude. Here's how it went.
Gratitude is an attitude of the heart and a sign of good character. It is the cure for entitlement, needed for contentment, and leads to generosity.
When a child doesn't have gratitude, they can become very selfish. All their focus is on what they want. They forget the good gifts that they have. They start to believe that they should have everything they want without having to work for it. They complain and are angry and unhappy.
God knows our thoughts, who we really are, and wants us to be the same whether or not someone else is watching
If we are not truthful about what we really think and feel, if we pretend to be better than we are, we are hypocrites.
Hypocrites hide who they are and what they value most.
They pretend to be good, lying in order to get other people will like them. They are overly proud and not worthy of trust.
Research indicates that children start out believing all lies and bad, but learn over time that some lies are OK. And they learn to lie for the same reasons adults do. They do it to get out of trouble, to impress or protect someone, or to be polite. As parents, it's tempting to lie to get children to do what they should, but this destroys trust.
It is a hollow victory and a decisive betrayal.
Looking back over yesterday I find myself having tripped over my pride many times - when a stranger walked by as the baby was crying, when I snapped at my son for turning off the printer mid-printing, when I ducked into my room to change clothes because a friend stopped over. Yet, I was supposed to have spent the last week focusing on humility - teaching & being an example to my children.
Before I continue, I'd like to review the definition of humility as I see it. I feel like we've culturally lost clarity on the meaning being humble. Some take it to mean that you are "down on yourself." Some confuse it with "honored", as in "I'm so humbled to receive this award."
I asked my kids if they knew what humility means.
My 7 year old said, "What’s that?"
My 11 year old said, "It’s being embarrassed."
I was humbled.
Apparently I'd done a poor job getting it across.
I told them,
"Humility means believing that what God says about you is more important than what anyone else says about you, including what you think about yourself."
My daughter asked, "What about what you say about me?"
I said, "Yes, God's opinion is more important than what mama and daddy say about you."
Then I asked them, "Why do you think its more important to believe what God says about you than anyone else?"
My 11 year old responded, "Because He’s the one who actually knows you and sees the good and bad."
My 7 year old said, "He's in control of the Universe."
They were both right..
The all-knowing Creator of the Universe can make better judgments than you or anyone else can about who is more important.
Far from being a burden, humility is a blessing that lightens your load.
It takes takes the pressure off to look good in front of other people. Their opinions mean little to you in comparison to what God says.
It builds you up. God values and loves you more than anyone else is capable. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. In Christ, you are a new creation. And because of this, you can approach the throne of God with confidence.
If you are confident, you have no need to vie for position, no need to posture, or try to control. You can let go of any focus on yourself and your position.
As C.S. Lewis said,
"Humility not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."
There are so many more benefits to embracing humility, but I'd like to just address one more, it's beneficial effect on relationships. Being humble means being teachable. Learning and receiving allow us to be filled up and built up. An over-inflated sense of self importance on the other hand, can put in a state of always trying to live up to our perception of ourselves. It can turn us into workaholics and perfectionists who have no room or energy to grow in the areas where it matters most. On the other hand, when we allow others to work, to serve, and to care for us, we honor the value of what they have to offer. Being teachable means we listen to others have to say. Humility is essential to healthy balanced relationships.
So my baby crying - I would do better by the baby to think less of myself and think instead of what she needs.
The friend who stopped by is probably more interested in if I'm hospitable, than what I'm wearing.
And my son, if I paused and asked (which I did later). I would've understood that he thought the printer had gone off on accident and was trying to help out by turning it off. I would've seen his attempt at thoughtfulness, instead of snapping because he got in the way of my productivity.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not feeling down on myself, but I'm seeing there's benefits to doing it differently next time - to pausing, thinking of myself less, and being teachable.
How are you cultivating a culture of humility in your home?
Edited to add Lauren Daigle's song - so on point with this post.
I have the honor of being nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. This is my first nomination for this peer-recognition award, and it comes from Yvonne M Morgan, a Christian blogger, Jesus follower, wife, mom, grandmother, missionary and author.
Find Yvonne here. Follow her social media profiles: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can get her book here. You’ll be blessed by connecting!
Thank you, Yvonne, for this nomination! It’s been a real joy to be part of a blogging community with other Christian writers who encourage me and challenge me every week with their solid content. So, I’m thrilled to nominate for the Sunshine Blogger Award other writers and bloggers who inspire and challenge me.
First, here are the rules:
Who would you like to visit with in heaven?
C.S. Lewis. He seems like the kind of person I'd enjoy chatting with. Smart, deep, but having a humor and creativity about him.
Where did you grow up?
"All over" is my standard answer. My dad was in the Air Force, so Mississippi, Guam, Arkansas, New Jersey, Kansas, and Indiana.
What is your favorite subject to blog about?
Christian parenting is my favorite because I'm in it now. I have been contemplating and researching it for years, and I like exploring it both in theory and practice.
What is your biggest obstacle to your Christian walk?
It feels like most people say that hardship brings them closer to God, but it drags me away. I become angry at God and question His goodness. I'm getting better at not going there, but I still struggle in my core to believe that God wants good things and is for me.
What author inspires you the most?
Right now I'm reading and loving Bill Hull's "The Complete Book of Discipleship." It's not as dry as it sounds. So many great and inspiring and well researched ideas about discipleship and Christian community. I like how clearly he communicates, too. I like concise.
What is your biggest regret in life so far?
I regret letting others define me, especially the manipulators and the unhealthy folks who projected their own issues on to me.
How has your relationship with God changed over the years?
I have gotten more honest with God about myself, my emotions, even being angry with Him. He can handle it, He's God. He knows anyway and I don't fear offending Him with honesty.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
Hosea 6:6, "For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." It was quoted by Jesus more than once and I think is a message that Christians in America need to hear most right now.
What Apostle do you most relate to and why?
Peter. I'm like Peter in that I'm gung-ho, stick my foot in my mouth often, and prone to legalism. That's also probably why I find him super annoying.
If you could do or be anything in life, what would it be?
Super fit and really good with people - a smooth talker.
Why do you blog?
I feel like the things I'm talking about in my blog aren't getting talked about otherwise. I'm trying to change the conversation about Christian parenting. I'm also trying to figure out what I believe and what matters most. I think the best wisdom comes out of community and conversation, like on a blog.
Next, my nominations and I look forward to learning more about them from their answers to my questions- eleven great Christian bloggers.
Read these people. Connect. Subscribe. Here they are (with their Twitter handles):
Here are the questions I’d like my nominees to answer. Can’t wait to read the answers!
Thank you again for the nomination Yvonne. I feel very honored to call you a friend. You are a blessing to so many of us. And I'm thankful to have connected with someone else passionate about helping the orphans of the world!
I hope all our readers enjoy connecting with this wonderful bloggers. They offer up words that encourage and enlighten so please follow them. God bless each of you.
My hopes were high that I would launch out of the starting gate, with great success on my mission this week, which was to focus on mission. Mission is chapter 1 of Parenting in Christ: Treasures for Parenting from Jesus. Essentially, it's about preaching the gospel clearly in the home, especially to your kids.
So here was the plan
Print off & post the focus verse of the week:
"For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Sunday – Talk about the gospel
Monday – Daddy shares his testimony
Tuesday – Mom shares her testimony
Wednesday – Talk about fruit of the gospel and resting in Christ.
- The fruit of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23)
Thursday – Warning about preachers of the false gospels
"I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-7).
Talk about false gospels – doubt, fear, prosperity
Its fruit is "idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these" (Galatians 5:20-21).
Friday – sharing our experiences with missions with the kids
Saturday – talk about how they can live and share Christ with others
It was all written up & ready to be followed. But it was also Thanksgiving week, with family in town, shopping to do, and my first #GivingTuesday fundraiser to launch in my new role as Executive Director of Finally Family Homes. Did I mention I made all of Thanksgiving dinner, have a 3 month old, and my husband had a minor, but activity limiting surgery the day before?
So I more like sputtered and tripped and stumbled out of the gate over all of life's busyness. But how apropos, because it all starts with grace. And grace, God's desire for your good is intimately related to His mercy. In fact, the verses preceding those most famous words on grace in Ephesians 2 tell us that God "being rich in mercy .. made us alive together with Christ" (4-5). God's goodness isn't thwarted by our failures.
So here I am, in the middle of the second week and quite behind my original plan. I did however, make the time to share my testimony with my kids. In some ways, it's strange that I never thought to do this before. I've shared bits and pieces, but never just told my story all at once, as I have for others. It was brief, more tailored to their age, and over dinner. My 7 year old had a hard time paying attention. My 11 year old was keenly interested and asked many questions after. It a was beautiful and blessed experience for us all.
I also found an adorable FREE printable for the Bible Verses of the week here:
On to the next week and humility, the verse this week is "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." - from I Corinthians 1:31 and 2 Corinthians 10:17 which are references to Jeremiah 9:24.
I'm having trouble finding that one in a printable so far, but if you wanted to really go for it, there is this sticker on Amazon for $10 - that I've pinned to my Pinterest board.
I'd be curious to know, have you ever somewhat formally shared your testimony with your kid(s)? Please share in the comments.
If you've been following my blog you may have noticed a change of pace. I've moved and had a a baby in the last few months and am just now kind of getting back on my feet again in terms of having any time to do anything other than feed the baby, unpack, change diapers, clean the house, and wish desperately for more sleep!
This time of transition has inspired me to transition this blog and send it on a slight detour re-tour. While all this studying, research, and discussions about being a disciple of Christ have been a blessing to me (and I hope to you) I am seeing the need to focus more on practicing than preaching. Our transitions have unsettled us and have shone a light on where we can improve on living our beliefs. So I am going to take on topics from my books - one a week, tackling it as a family.
I'll start with Parenting In Christ: Treasures For Parenting From Jesus.
The lessons are in the following order and I'll report back on each on the following dates.
Mission - November 25th
Humility - December 2nd
Gratitude - December 9th
Authority - December 16th
Obedience - December 23rd
Integrity - December 30th
Repentance - January 6th
Righteousness - January 13th
Parenting in the Spirit - January 20th
Gentleness - January 27th
Join me, if you like, and share how intentionally practicing they way of Christ impacts you and your family!
Tomorrow, Tuesday August 21st I talk with Certified Financial Planner™, Army veteran, speaker, and author Steve Repak, radio host of "Your Money God's Way." His show airs every Tuesday at 11 am EST on the Just Jesus Radio Network.
As you may or not know, Jesus talked a great deal about money. If we wish to parent in Christ, then we must guide our children in handling finances as Jesus taught. I believe Jesus talked so much about money because how we handle money reveals what we value most. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We put our best efforts and attention on what will build up our treasure.
Planting the seeds of financial responsibility can start earlier than you think. Long before they learn how to count or balance a check book, a child's character and attitude towards what they treasure lay the groundwork for how they will handle finances. Learning how to live in simplicity, gratitude, and self-control takes time and effort to develop. Gaining a healthy sense of humility, responsibility, and generosity requires practice and time to build up into strengths and skills.
Join Steve Repak and I as we discuss these issues and more at 11 am EST tomorrow. Otherwise the show will be available for on demand listening for a week until the next show airs the following Tuesday. Most people listen to the show via the #JustJesusRadio app or you can go to www.JustJesusRadio.com
If you missed it, you can listen in at:
For more about Steve Repak, visit his website: https://steverepak.com/about-steve/
Or follow him on social media on
Hi and welcome!
I'm Christina Dronen, a writer, wife, and mom passionate about following Jesus in the way I parent. My posts focus on pursuing Christ and letting Christ live through me in my parenting.