Our gut-level human instinct tells us not to admit our failures, especially to our spouse or kids.
For some stupid reason we feel that we have to be able to have it all together in front of those we’re setting the rules for, in front of those we’re leading. Maybe we think we’ll be seen as hypocrites if we fail in front of them, or that they’ll lose respect for us. I guess that could be true on some levels, but I’ve actually discovered an amazing thing…
My wife and kids respect me more when I admit my failures.
Really, it’s true. And I don’t think my family is a group of weirdos who get a kick out of watching me crash and burn.
There are some HUGE benefits to that kind of transparency, for me and for them:1 I grow in humility.
It’s not possible to overstate how important humility is in the Christian life. I recently read a book on the subject that has changed my life.** I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a book other than the Bible before. Because of a new understanding the LORD is giving me about who I am in light of who He is, I’m seeing day after day how proud I am and how much I need humility. I’m seeing that the more humble I am, the more like Jesus I become. I’m seeing that as a creature before my Creator, I can be nothing but humble. Admitting my failures is an exercise in humility, a setting where I am forced to be honest about who I am before God and in the eyes of my family. I’m beginning to see the opportunity to confess my failures as a wonderful thing, because it grows me in humility and makes me more like my Savior.2 My wife’s trust in me grows.
When I can be humble enough to admit my mistakes, failures, and sins (and there are many), my wife begins to see me the change that’s happening in me. She starts to see a man who is willing to take a long, hard look at himself, warts and all. She sees a husband who can be trusted with knowing her deepest hurts, fears, and needs. She begins to believe that I’ll care for her more than I care about myself (Ephesians 5:25). That matters to me immensely because it’s something I want to be true of me one day – that I love my wife like Christ loves His church. She needs that kind of husband and I want to be that for her.3 My children see a real Christian life modeled.
The Christian life is not about becoming more and more perfect, it’s about becoming more and more dependent on our God, Who is perfect. Our walk as Christians is a never-ending exercise of taking our neediness to our LORD’s sufficiency and finding ourselves satisfied in it alone. As we learn to admit our failures – again and again – we find ourselves able to run to the Savior, Who waits with open arms. That is where we find strength, grace, and help in our time of need (Isaiah 40:31 , Hebrews 4:16), and oh, how we need it. When my kids are watching that kind of humble, failure-admitting living take place day after day, they are seeing the Christian life at its most basic level.
- They see a Dad who’s honest with himself about himself.
- They see a Dad who’s honest about himself before the LORD.
- They see a Dad who is able to admit his need and turn to the LORD and others for help.
- They see a Dad who is able to ask for forgiveness when he hurts them, which is an incredible relational balm, by the way.
- They see a Dad who is NOT in fact a hypocrite, but a real person they can relate to, because they are failures too, remember?.
Here’s a song about being a failure, a loser, a no-account in human terms, but something much more in God’s sight.
When we can take on the attitude that is prescribed for us in scripture, one that takes pleasure and glory in our own weaknesses, that’s when we will “win.” That’s when God’s power will be able to work to its fullest in our times of weakness.