Hi friends! Zena here— I’m the editor behind-the-scenes at Fierce Parenting. The following is an excerpt from Jesus Followers by Anne Graham Lotz and Rachel-Ruth Lotz Wright— when I read it, I knew I had to share it with you!
As I look at my childhood, and as I consider the way I parent my own children, this line really resonated with me:
“At times you and I may not parent well and we may make mistakes, but it’s never too late to change. It’s important not to stay in the same rut of sinful behavior toward our children.”
May God grant us the grace and power to see clearly, repent deeply, and grow in holiness!

I would never want to give the impression that anyone in my family is perfect. As much as I value the principles exemplified by my parents and grandparents, sometimes those principles came in the wake of difficult misunderstandings or even mistakes that had to be remedied.

This is clearly illustrated by the struggle I had with math, which triggered my dad’s struggle with me.

Missed expectations, frustrations, and tears

I’ve never ever been good with numbers. I still break out in a sweat just remembering timed math tests in elementary school. Some kids in the class would be out of their chairs, bent over their tests, frantically racing the clock to finish their times table before everyone else. The fact that I noticed what they were doing shows that I wasn’t even looking at my paper. I could feel the stress in the room, and the numbers on my test, along with numerous blank spaces, taunting me as the clock ticked closer to the buzzer.

Years later, when I attended Baylor University, I selected my major by flipping through the catalog and looking for one that didn’t require any math or foreign language classes. Bingo! I graduated with a recreation and leisure services degree. I remember my dad saying, “You’re majoring in what?”

My dad excelled at math. It made sense to him. What didn’t make sense to him was the fact that I didn’t understand it. His frustration while trying to tutor me—and my frustration with him and math—occasionally built to the point that we would be yelling at each other. I usually ended up crying.

Letting go of expectations

But Dad’s attitude about my struggle in math about-faced at the end of my sophomore year in high school. I had been doing horribly in geometry, and I thought I was going to fail the class. When I finally received my grades, I told my dad that I had passed geometry by one point. He looked at me and said in his New York accent, “I’m proud of you, Rach!” 

Immediately I felt the pressure lift. Somewhere along the line, my dad had let go of his expectations and simply loved me for who I was!

It’s never too late to change

His loving response affected me so much that I shared this story at my dad’s funeral. His example reminds me that at times you and I may not parent well and we may make mistakes, but it’s never too late to change. It’s important not to stay in the same rut of sinful behavior toward our children.

It's important not to stay in the same rut of sinful behavior toward our children.

Thankfully, we have a heavenly Father who always responds to us perfectly. We can rely on Him and honestly confess to Him as we parent our children. The more time we spend with our heavenly Father, the more we will lead like Him and be a positive influence on those around us, full of patience and life-giving words.

Questions for reflection

You may want to ask yourself these questions I’ve had to consider: 

  • Am I in a rut of sin when dealing with my children? 
  • Am I packing on the pressure for my children while at the same time hurting their self-esteem because of my expectations?

If you’re not sure of the answer, you might consider a few more questions: 

  • Am I refusing to let go of my desire for them to make the grades I expect or gain a place on the team I have in mind? 
  • Does my stress level rise to the point of anger when my children are wound up and rambunctious before bedtime? 
  • Does the sight of my children’s messy rooms prompt me to berate them? 
  • When my child spills a drink in the car, do I fly off the handle?

It’s worth asking ourselves a similar question about our response to those we lead or interact with at work or at church: 

  • Do I find myself sacrificing kindness and patience just to get a job done, hurting people along the way?

The power of acceptance and love

I never thought to ask my dad what prompted his shift in perspective. Why did he stop getting angry with me over my grades? I don’t really know. But I am thankful that I got to experience the change in him. The power of that moment, knowing he accepted me and loved me as I am, has stayed with me all these years.

It’s not too late for any of us to change, by the grace of God! From one day to the next, let your family, your coworkers, and your friends see a kinder and more patient person— a more Spirit-filled, Christ-like person— who cares more about them than the expectations driving you.

The change in your attitude could be so encouraging, relief-giving, and freeing that your former expectations are actually exceeded.

I am living proof. Believe it or not, in my last two years at Baylor University, I made the dean’s list!

Anne Graham Lotz—called “the best preacher in the family” by her father, Billy Graham—is an international speaker and the bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books, including Jesus in Me and the newly released book The Light of His Presence. Anne is the president of AnGeL Ministries in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the former chairperson for the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
Rachel-Ruth Lotz Wright serves on the board of directors for AnGeL Ministries, in addition to holding the position of Ministry Teaching Associate and chairing the weekly prayer team that undergirds her mother’s ministry. A graduate of Baylor University, she teaches an online weekly Bible study that draws thousands of people globally.
Excerpted from Jesus Followers: Real-Life Lessons for Igniting Faith in the Next Generation. Copyright © 2021 by Anne Graham Lotz and Rachel-Ruth Lotz Wright. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.