Years ago, my toddler and I were visiting a friend and her children. We were having a grand time talking while the children played beautifully. When it was time for us to leave I called to my son. He did not come right away. He did not pick up his toys right away. He kept playing.

This incident, although seemingly insignificant, was memorable for me. How I handled this, unbeknownst to my friend, revealed a wrong focus guiding my parenting decisions.The motive of my heart on this day became painfully clear.

Examining Motives in Our Parenting

This friend and I both had sat under some amazing teaching regarding parenting. We were taught about the importance of consistency, not making threats, meaning what we say, speaking calmly, first time obedience, delayed obedience is disobedience, etc.

My decision of how to react to this disobedience was based on my thoughts of what I thought she would think of my parenting. Thoughts like these quickly swirled through my mind:

  • She heard the same teaching. She sees that he did not obey.
  • She is watching to see IF I deal with this.
  • She is observing HOW I handle this.
  • I don’t want to look like a “bad” mom.
  • I don’t want my child to seem like HE won in this silent war of obedience.
  • I will look like I let him win.
  • I will look like I don’t expect obedience.
  • I will look like I don’t follow through.
  • etc.

Please note who was at the center of each of those thoughts.

  • Me.

Please note the motive of my heart in my parenting:

  • to LOOK like a good parent.
  • concerned with MY image.
  • quite frankly, I wanted to impress.

I am thankful to have this as a memory etched in my mind. It allows me to reflect back and see how off-track I was. I am grateful that the Lord so lovingly made me aware of an unhealthy desire for approval, a yearning to fit in, and a pursuit of being admired.

“Parenting to the heart,” as I so often talk about in my blog and at my speaking engagements, began to be revealed to me back then twenty-ish years ago. This principle has been in the Bible all along, but it was at that point that I recall being aware of my wrong motivation driving me in daily decision-making.

God’s Word is the foundation for our life.  Here’s what the Lord says is important to Him.

  • I Samuel 16:7 (ESV)  But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Yes indeedy. I was guilty of being concerned about my outward appearance of being respected as an impressive parent.

Maybe I did impress my friend that day. I mean, I got up quickly and quietly to tend to the disobedience. But, I certainly didn’t impress the One who knew the motive of my heart.

He saw outward proof of what He already knew raged beneath the surface… PRIDE.

He was and still is on a journey of lovingly, slowly chiseling away at my self-centered motives, revealing ways my parenting is swayed by a desire for recognition or stature, approval, or you fill in the blank.

You know, in Luke 14 (and many other places in the Bible), Jesus addresses the Pharisees and their pursuit of identity in a hierarchy in life. They just can’t seem to get self, power, and pride out of the way. He’s saying that one day this pursuit of honor will be leveled.

Before I go, I want to make sure I did not send the message that I should not have dealt with my disobedient child. The focus of today’s post is about examining the motive of our hearts in our parenting, inspecting it for areas that we are wrongfully pursuing reputation, image, and the desire to be esteemed more highly than our peers.

May these words touch someone today.

Rhonda that’sNOTmysonwearingthepurpleboots.LOL ellis

  1. christy barnes

    Thank you for continuing to share words of wisdom, today they have me reflecting on some actions in my life, blessings

  2. K West

    This is one of my favorite posts so far. I learn so much from you!

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