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Do Your Children Determine Your Self Worth?

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I remember sitting on my deck many years ago very discouraged as a mother. One of my children had made a bad decision. Well, make that two children. I won't go into the details or their identity but it was uncanny that these two situations were almost more than I could bear at the time. And they were totally unrelated.

A lot of questions went through my mind and heart that day.

Would this determine my self worth?

Was I a failure just because they had made some wrong choices?

Would this take me to a place where I would question the goodness of God or would I trust His character and what I knew to be true about Him?

One thing I had learned through the years was the discipline of giving thanks in all things, so that was my first “go to”!

For me there was no alternative.

I loved God and I was convinced He would see us through this.

But it was a defining moment for me that I will never forget. Our children had disappointed us. It wasn’t the first time but this time seemed bigger. There were some major consequences involved.

I think most of us would agree that we feel good about ourselves when our kids obey. And when they don't obey, besides the frustration that comes, we often blame ourselves and wonder where we went wrong.

I can remember when they were younger thinking their outbursts were my fault and sometimes they were. I had provoked them and now they were provoking me. I knew when it was outright disobedience. And I was responsible to deal with that appropriately.

I am not responsible for their actions!

But as if it was yesterday, I had an illumination. I wasn’t responsible for their actions. These children had made choices. I didn't make these choices. They made them of their own free will.

As we have said through the years in our home and as Emerson said often while pastoring...

“My response is my responsibility!”

They were responsible for their decisions.

Bingo!! I was free.

I was not going to let these scenarios determine whether I had been a good parent or not. I knew Emerson and I had tried to do “what seemed best.” We had lived by the six biblical principles of GUIDES that he shares in Love & Respect in the Family.

I didn't know what would happen but as I sat there and prayed, I sensed the Lord speaking very directly to me. He impressed on me something that has stayed with me for years.

I’ve shared this with others and it has impacted them as well. Are you ready to hear these words?

“I don’t want you to take the guilt or the glory.”   

“What Lord?”

What I sensed He was saying to me was this:

“Right now and in the future, whether these kids disappoint you or are making a good name for themselves, I don't want you to take the responsibility for their choices.”

In other words, I should not take the blame for their less than good behavior but neither should I boast of their accomplishments, as if I deserve the credit.

Yes, we are to take parenting seriously and we are responsible for teaching and training our children. But if we have done our best to raise them according to God’s Word, we need to remember that they have a free will, and their choices are theirs to make.

Ultimately, their response is their responsibility.

You see, we can falsely base our self worth or lack thereof on our children’s performance. Sadly many parents are still doing this when their children are grown!

We are worth Jesus to God.

The Lord wants our worth to come from Him and Him alone. That’s why the Bible declares: “For you have been bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:20; 7:23).

What price? “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold...but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:18-19). We were bought with the blood of Christ. His Life for our life.

So I am worth Jesus to God. When God says I have worth, I have worth. NO matter what someone does around me!

I know that in the daily grind of life, our feelings counter and undermine our trust in our true worth to God. But once we know our true worth, we cease trying to derive our worth from our children.

Yes on any given day they give us reasons to rejoice and tomorrow they may cause us heartache and sorrow, but at no time do they determine our value and importance as redeemed human beings.

As believers in Christ we bring our identity to our parenting; we do not derive our identity from our parenting.

No matter your age or your stage in parenting, make sure you are finding your identity in Christ.

I recall a woman who I knew years ago, who literally the moment you saw her, began talking about her kids and their accomplishments. I really enjoy people and love getting to know them by asking questions but I dreaded seeing this woman in the grocery store or at church because I knew the conversation before it began. Her identity was wrapped up in her children.

I wish I could say your children will never disappoint you and you will always feel good about yourself because they will do everything you say!! Apparently like my acquaintance above.

Most of us live in the reality of imperfect children.

We probably brought home a crying baby from the hospital and have lived through the tears of a strong willed toddler. And who hasn’t known (or will soon know) the drama and even rebellion of teenagers and beyond?

Perhaps you are feeling like you have failed and are taking guilt God didn’t intend. If there is true guilt remember Proverbs that says, “A righteous man (or woman) falls seven times but arises again.” Seek your children’s forgiveness and move on.

If today they are near perfect for even a nano second, don’t take the glory either!!

Both can affect our self worth. Both are wrong!

Let’s bring our identity to our parenting, not derive our identity from our parenting.

From my heart,


Sarah Eggerichs

Questions to Consider