It Starts With You
In order to properly train our kids to fail forward, we must first learn how to fail forward in our own lives. The first step is to admit you made a mistake immediately after you make it. Don’t put it off. Tell your kids face-to-face, “I blew it.” Let me tell you something else. Don’t write your children a letter. Don’t put it in a memo. It is vital that you do it face-to-face, and do it now.
I learned early in life that it is better to quickly admit a mistake instead of putting it off. As a child I knew that I would not get in nearly as much trouble if I went ahead and told the truth right away. When I would lie to get out of something, not only did I get punished eventually for what I did, I also got punished for lying! I don’t know about you, but for me two whippings are bad. Double your pleasure, double your fun, but don’t double your whippings!
Two wrongs never make a right. As parents we must teach our children to tell the truth the first time. But remember, if kids don’t see this modeled in their parents’ lives, they are not going to behave this way either.
Now, once you have admitted the mistake, repent. Children need to see that the home is a model and example of repentance. You see, there’s a difference between “I’m sorry I got caught” and true repentance. The word repent means to do a one-eighty. It means the person must go in the opposite direction than where they were headed. True repentance says, “I’m sorry. I realize this behavior is wrong, and now I am going to do the opposite of what I was doing.”
Repentance is what salvation is all about. When I became a Christ follower, I was taken out of the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of Light. I changed directions. My actions were totally different. When I got saved, I didn’t really know the Word. I was just smart enough to realize anything that I had been doing up until the time I asked Jesus into my heart, I was not going to continue doing. I didn’t hear a sermon about not using drugs or making lifestyle changes. I just knew I needed a Savior, and I needed to do the opposite of what I used to do. Right now, your challenge is to model this same choice for your kids.
One of the key ingredients in repentance is taking responsibility for your actions. We have all had the baseball-through-the-window experience. Truly taking responsibility means that if you broke it, you must pay for it.
Growing up, I did some really stupid stuff. But one of the things that caused me to quit making mistakes was the fact that I could not afford them. I knew that when I made a mistake, I had to say I was sorry, but I also had to earn the money to make restitution. It is important to realize that our kids are not going to learn this if we do not do whatever it takes in our own lives. Children must see you offer to repay, even work extra to pay the person back.
Some will say, “Well, I’m under grace. I’ve been forgiven.” Yes, but sin has its consequences. I know people that are gloriously saved . . . in prison. They have repented for their actions, but they must still serve time because of what they did.
Our kids need to understand that Mom and Dad are going to forgive them, but there is still a consequence to pay. Where are children going to learn this? The answer is easy, us. When you make a mistake, whether it is on the job or at home, admit it and offer to pay for it.
I had an intern years ago that decided he was going to make overhead transparencies. The only problem was that he did not grab overhead transparencies; he just grabbed some plastic sheets that he thought were transparencies. This intern put them in the copier and began to make copies. When the first two or three didn’t work, he did what any young person would do, he just kept putting more in. Before long the entire copier was all messed up.
I was so proud of this kid because he offered to pay for his mistake. We didn’t make him pay for it, but we were so glad that he offered. This young man understood that he should have taken responsibility and asked about how to make overhead transparencies. But when he broke the copier, he took responsibility and offered to do whatever it took to pay for his mistake. That was not something he learned on his own. His parents put that in him. That is something that I want in my children, but I believe the only way it will happen is if they see a living example first.