Hypocrisy is something you cannot avoid. You tell your children not to fight and then your argue with your spouse. You tell your children God is in control and then you become angry or despondent about the presidential election. You tell your children to put God first and not be rowdy, and then you realize what you really wanted was just some peace and quiet.
Focusing on outward behavior and hypocrisy go hand-in-hand. Your goal must be much more than outward compliance. Looking for quick results and outward compliance is a poor use of authority. This will not build relationships. A desire for quick results or mere outward compliance leaves the door wide open for hypocrisy to do its damage.
Dealing with heart issues allows you to address your own struggles with your children and minimizes the danger of hypocrisy. For example, instead of just telling your children not to fight and be quiet, you could take the time to help them understand what is behind the desire to fight. Talk with your children about where fights and quarrels come from in James 4:1-4. Fighting indicates a selfish, greedy heart. Talk about your own struggles with anger and fights. If you get angry with your husband or wife, talk to your kids about it. Don’t try to hide your fighting, your kids know what is going on! Confess your sin of fighting and then show them how you have repented and learning to trust God by being kind instead of snapping back.
Ignoring your sin while correcting your kids is the soil that breeds hypocrisy and broken relationships.
You can lead your children with the grace of God’s word or you can provoke them to anger. Hypocrisy is often fueled by a desire for quick results. However, the fruit of the gospel, that is the fruit of the Spirit, is not produced overnight. “Just do it” might work well in Nike commercials, but it is a poor guide for parenting.
God wants you to use his instructions, given with his motivation, and supported by gospel grace as you raise your children. Turn from hypocrisy and focus on the heart, yours and your children’s.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.