So many people, Christians in particular, have bought into the lie that perfect families exist.
It’s not a mystery why the myth of the “perfect family” continues to thrive amongst Christians. Many churches rightfully encourage couples to prioritize the health of their marriages. They embolden parents to teach their children with intentionality through a biblical worldview. They bring common mistakes and shortcomings to their congregation’s attention.
Ultimately, the church desires for families to model godly living, and fathers are responsible for leading families down this righteous path.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of relying on our own strength and leading a family that collectively honors God can feel like a lot of pressure for dads. Marriages can go through challenging seasons, children can act out, and families can be dysfunctional. But these trials don’t disqualify a family from honoring God.
As fathers, how do we accept imperfection and still lead our families toward spiritual prosperity?
The greatness of family is found, not in our perfection, but despite our dysfunction. We can still encourage one another, help one another, support one another, and embrace one another because greatness comes only through our reliance on a perfect Heavenly Father.
Fathers, we must remember, an imperfect family will not break us apart. But how we respond to our imperfections can. By letting go of the goal of perfection, being gracious toward one another and having integrity, we can help our families to bring glory and honor to God in spite of our inadequacies.
Let go of the goal of perfection
Much to our relief, we see time and time again examples of God using deeply imperfect families for His glory. Dysfunction was just as present then in the family unit as it is now. But we tend to look at these families that exist in our social circles today and see only the ways in which they’re superior to us.
Maybe we see the driven and accomplished husband at work or the dedicated wife at the gym, but this is only a small slice of their lives. That same husband could be sacrificing valuable family time to continue climbing the corporate ladder, and that wife could be working out every day because of the unhealthy pressure she feels to look just like the influencers she sees on Instagram.
Families are made up of people, and people are imperfect. So, the pressure is off, no need to strive for perfection. It becomes much more possible for fathers to lead their families to glorify God once they have realized that perfection is out of reach.
With unattainable goals out of the way, families can focus on establishing a permanent place for grace in their homes. Family members are not going to see eye-to-eye all the time. Disagreements are inevitable, and we are not always going to understand each other, but we can still choose to show each other grace.
Paul writes in Colossians, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13, ESV).
Fathers—your children are paying attention to the way you respond to conflict, so be gracious! Show them the compassion, patience and forgiveness that Paul is speaking about, and they will turn around and do the same.
Proverbs 20:7 says, “The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!” Fathers, as an alternative to perfection, let’s aim to have integrity.
We will inevitably fail our families at times. Instead of holding us to an impossible standard, integrity informs how we respond to those failures. When perfection is our goal, we try to hide our mistakes or shift the blame. Instead, when we prioritize integrity, we take ownership of our actions and focus on reacting in a God-honoring way.
Covering up sins and blame-shifting leads to distrust within families. Who would believe someone who cares more about maintaining a certain image than being honest and genuine? But responding to failures with integrity restores trust, and trust helps families to thrive together.
Leading a family can be a daunting task. But fathers, I encourage you to let go of the goal of perfection. You as a family unit will never obtain it, and that’s okay. Instead, let grace connect you and integrity sustain you as you walk together the path of righteousness. God is there to guide and forgive you every step of the way.
Marcus Mecum is founder and senior pastor of 7 Hills Church. He has led 7 Hills in following Christ and loving their community for over 15 years. Pastor Marcus’ prayer is to see the body of Christ truly living out its call to be the hands and feet of Jesus to one another and the world around them. Hear from Pastor Marcus every day in your inbox with Daily Bread with PM, a short devotional with resources to help you grow in your faith.