Growing up, my dad expected me to be a sinner.
My dad knew that his kids, just like him, were weak, frail sinners who struggled with sin on a daily basis. He didn’t expect me to be perfect. He didn’t expect me to always make the wisest, most godly decisions. He expected that I would sin, against him and against God.
Because my dad expected me to sin, he didn’t act surprised or shocked when I sinned. He didn’t belittle me, or explode in anger, or say, “I can’t believe you would do such a thing!” He could believe that I could do such a thing because he himself did such things. Instead of acting surprised or shocked, he often communicated that he understood my struggle and that he himself had struggled with the same things I did.
I think my dad had the same attitude as Paul, who said:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)
My dad always tried to think of himself as the foremost of sinners, and that mindset carried over into his parenting.
This made a huge difference in my relationship with him. It freed me up to come to him and confess my sins and struggles. It was still hard and humbling for me to confess my sin, but dad’s humility and grace certainly made it easier.
Dad’s attitude toward sin has also shaped the way that I relate to others. When someone confesses a sin to me, I’m rarely surprised. I know that I’m a sinner and I expect others to be sinners as well. It doesn’t shock me when someone confesses a particularly serious sin. Sinners commit sins. To expect anything else is kind of silly.
So thanks dad. Your grace toward me has led me to extend grace to others. I’m really grateful for that.