Hypocrisy is something you cannot avoid. You tell your children not to fight and then you argue with your spouse. You tell your children God is in control and then you become angry or despondent with the circumstances of life. You tell your children to put God first, and then you realize you told them that for selfish reasons.
Your children are intimately aware of your hypocritical tendencies. It is as if a child is born with a fully-functioning, super-sensitive hypocrisy checker built in. Hypocrisy: something you and I cannot avoid!
What can you do?
You begin by telling your children is the natural state of all humans. That means that you, just like your children, will at times fall into being a hypocrite. When this happens, seek forgiveness with pleasant, sincere words. Help them to see that you are engaged in the same battles that they face. Encourage your children to fight these battles with you.
You have a choice. You can lead your children with the grace of God’s word and Spirit or you can provoke them to anger. If you deny your hypocritical actions you will provoke your children. Hypocrisy is often fueled by a desire for quick results. So, instead of seeking forgiveness and taking the time for true reconciliation, it is too easy just to focus on your children problems and forge ahead. However, the fruit of the gospel, that is the fruit of the Spirit, is not produced by taking shortcuts. “Just do it” might work well in Nike commercials, but it is a poor guide for parenting.
Your goal must be much more than outward compliance. If compliance is all you look for, then one day you may be surprised by an angry teenager who will suddenly appear out of nowhere. A desire for quick results or mere outward compliance leaves the door wide open for hypocrisy to do long-term damage.
Dealing with true heart change always takes time. Dealing with heart issues allows you to address your own struggles with your children and greatly lessens the danger of hypocrisy. Looking for quick results and outward compliance is a poor use of authority. This will not build relationships. This will cause you to be seen as a hypocrite.
God wants you to humbly use his instructions, given with his motivation, and supported by gospel grace as you raise your children. Failure to follow this path will lead to children who have been provoked to anger by hypocritical parents.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but nourish them by bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.