The Parent Makeover Activities—Your Example to Kids: When’s It Good?

This parent (or any family member) theme brings up a question: Isn’t it prideful to pray, tithe, serve, etc. in front of our children? Aren’t we told to hide what we do for the Lord?

These questions often come about from such passages where Jesus says:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”[1]


“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”[2]

We incorrectly interpret Jesus if we understand him to be only laying out behavioral guidelines in this passage. It’s important that we read these verses in the context of where they are and not isolate them in a way that misrepresents the teaching. If we read carefully, we note that Jesus speaks very specifically in qualifying his words in these two sections by referring to the reason we do it: “to be seen by them [others]”. What Jesus is bringing up is having the right motives. Are we doing things to draw attention to our self? To appear religious or holy in front of others?

As Deuteronomy 6 describes, teaching about faith is important but so is living it out, particularly for children. Seeing teaching expressed in life, children will learn from example. To always hide the expression of living our faith in Christ creates a false message. So, with the right motives of living a God-glorifying life, your children see what following Jesus looks like. With the right motives, we can give a tithe to the church, pray, serve the needy, give to a ministry, and so on in front of our children without contradicting Jesus’ teaching or point of the above verses.

Seeing an example in how one engages in a life of following God can also be used by the Holy Spirit to help children toward the goal of being conformed to the image of Christ[3] and to learn about who God is in the midst of life.  In fact, the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christ-follower/Christian is to bring about right actions with right motives.

So don’t be afraid to live a faith-full life in front of your children but take a moment to pray about your motives: Is it for you to look good or is it for God and his kingdom?

THIS WEEK’S DISCUSSION: (Join the conversation below in the “Comments” link.)

  • How do you nurture/keep your motives pure/focused on God when living out your faith outwardly?


  • What did you observe, experience or learn from your family activity this week?


Read Chapter 3—The Child Makeover.

[1] Matthew 6:1-4

[2] Matt. 6:6

[3] Romans 8:29

2 Responses

  1. Tina Hull
    I was thankful for the chart on page 43 listing the most significant religious influences in our children's lives. Gracie is in 4th grade and Ethan in 1st grade so the ages on the chart are a bit older than my kids but I think that was what was most interesting to me. At ages when we think our kids don't want us the most research says that we have the most significant religious influence in our children's lives. Wow, LORD that's a big responsibility but I know You have gone before us. May we cling to You as we figure out how to live out our own faith and not become polluted by the world. May Gracie and Ethan see Jason and I loving, honoring, obeying, and respecting You in our lives and may they desire that for their own lives. May they grow to love You more and more. Help us LORD please help us.....
  2. Brian
    Yeah, it's a great reminder that what we see from kids is not necessarily the final result. Even though a teen may begin to push us away, that is still when they are deeply shaped by us. Tina's post also reminded me of the importance of prayer in our parenting. I know many of the parents I have spoken with over the years did not view prayer as the "extra" but the start to other ways to encourage children toward faith. I also also find it a GREAT way to keep my motives pure in the way Jesus calls us.

Leave a comment