What I Would Do Differently, Part 1

“. . . I began to speak less to the kids and more to God. It was actually quite relaxing.”

Wow. That statement stopped me in my tracks.

The words are from Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life. They are quoted in a book I’ve been working my way through over the last few weeks, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica Thompson.

How often have I stepped in and tried to play the role of Holy Spirit in the lives of others – especially in the lives of my children — when I should have been praying?

Who do I think I am? If I can’t change my own heart (and I can’t), I’m certainly not going to succeed in changing my children’s hearts.

Far too many times I rely on my own “wisdom” instead acknowledging from the get-go that God is the one doing the work in the lives of every sinner under our roof – me included.

Far too often I tend to think it’s all up to me. If I just do this right, everyone will turn out right, so I’d better jump into action.

Far too often I wait until I’m desperate before I wake up to the fact that there’s nothing I can do but rely on my Lord. Then I remember to pray.

What is one thing I would do differently if I were starting over in this glorious job of motherhood?

I would try, by God’s grace, to pray a whole lot more and say a whole lot less. I can still, by God’s grace, do it differently today. I can again confess, repent, be forgiven, and move on in the power of the Holy Spirit. I can interact with the members of my family in a constant state of dependence and prayer, asking God to work in me and through me, and resting in the fact that He will accomplish His will in spite of me.

It’s His job, not mine, to change hearts.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began  a good work in you  will bring it to completion at  the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).



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  1. Thank you, Pam, for sharing your wisdom with us! I so look forward to reading your posts.

  2. Yes! This was so challenging and encouraging all at the same time to me as well as I read through Give Them Grace. How hilarious that we think we can effect some kind of change on our children’s hearts in and of ourselves and yet so flippantly pass up the opportunity to pray earnestly for them. The chapter on prayer was one of the most eye opening chapters for me (I was amazed and how I had been truly treating God as this unhelpful, unloving Father rather than the always helpful, always loving–thanks be to Christ–Father that he is!).

  3. Wow. I needed this.

  4. Thank you, Pam. I needed this one today. You’re so right!

  5. This is what I have been praying about. I will look forward to your next post. I think I will look for that book on Amazon too…

  6. That was so beautifully written! Great wisdom! I rarely comment, but always enjoy your blogs 🙂

  7. My children are adults now, 29, 24 and 21 but boy did this ever speak to me! Thank you for sharing.

  8. I LOVE THIS! I have really been working on some things with my children, and I found this through someone’s post on facebook, and I just want to say Thank You! This encourages me as a mom!

  9. Thank you for this post! I have found as I age, that I need a balance between expectations and Grace! We are all given Grace! We need to offer this as well, expecting obedience is right but allowing Grace for mistakes, is also right. I often check my children’s hearts and then act accordingly. And the more Grace I offer, the more my children have repentance 🙂

  10. I found this so very encouraging! I am “struggling” with one of my children, and I think your post highlighted so clearly why… too many words/not enough prayer – definitely the wrong balance of these from me 🙁 Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. These words strike me hard, and it’s too true for me that I’ve been there again and again. So encouraging to think that “today” I can do things differently. Thank you.

  12. Grateful, so grateful for this TODAY. Thank you for offering up this truth, this wisdom. Blessings to you on your mothering journey! Im thankful that the Lord brought me to this page, this post, this day.

  13. Perfect. I will join you in your prayer to pray more and speak less both to my children AND my husband.

  14. OUCH! My toes are flat! So many times, I must go before our Father and thank Him for the insights given. When I am naked and raw, I confess, most often times I realize it is my daughter, His gift to me for a blessing, that directs me to the Holy Spirit. I chuckle because I realize I am not instructing her, she is directing me to a beautiful vision to see the Lord, full of love, grace, and mercy.

  15. Your blog reminded me of a quote from Alistair Begg. I heard him years ago. He said: “you are writing a gospel, a chapter each day, by the deeds that you do and the words that you say. You write, distorted or true. So what is the gospel according to you?” I need to repeat that back to myself more than I do. He also had another quote I memorized, again I need to repeat this back to me more than once in a blue moon…”If I that I say in a single day with never a word left out, were written each night in clear black and white, it would make strange reading no doubt. Then just suppose, ere I should close, we should read the whole record through. Wouldn’t we sigh and wouldn’t we try, a whole lot less talking to do. And I more than half think that many a kink would be smoother in life’s tangled thread. If half that I say in a single day were left completely unsaid.”

    Thank you for the remember to pray and to rely on the Holy Spirit. We must lean into Him, because we can’t do it on our own. Thank you so much for the encouragement.

  16. So needed to read this today…thank you.

  17. Thank you for a wonderfully written reminder to live what we believe, to model a life of dependence on God for our children as we rely on Him to raise them. Much more prayer and far less words (mostly mine) are needed in my home.

  18. Oh my goodness! I so TOTALLY agree … the exact same lesson/conviction/regret learned over here … as a mom of a 20, 19 and 11 those exact same words have been shared with many “younger” parents lately as they seek advice … such TRUTH!!

  19. That profound statement and brought me to a halt in my tracks.

    Of course… that only makes sense!

    In the past day and a half I have been brought to my knees in surrender and prayer because I am so flummoxed by a parenting problem. I don’t know who to turn to about it. So I just keep turning to God. And God’s peace so overshadowed my day today. Such a blessing. I felt as if I was in the palm of His hand, gently covered.

    I need to remember that continually, and be reminded daily, so that I might lean on His wisdom and not my own!

    Thank you!

  20. I love your blog and resources. I was a little surprised by this post, however. While it is true that we need to rely on the Holy Spirit and that prayer is a means by which the Holy Spirit works, is it actually accurate to say that mothers cannot change the hearts of their children?

    On some level, I’m sure that women over-talk at their kids…just as they probably expend way to many words on everyone else (boy, I know I do). But doesn’t the Holy Spirit also use exhortation and encouragement as a means of transformation? Moreover, the Scriptures speak specifically of the duty parents have in talking to their children and the profound impact those words can have:

    Duet 6:6-9: These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

    Proverbs 6:20-23: My son, observe the commandment of your father / And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; / Bind them continually on your heart; / Tie them around your neck. / When you walk about, they will guide you; /When you sleep, they will watch over you; / And when you awake, they will talk to you. / For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; / And reproofs for discipline are the way of life

  21. Bethany, thanks for your comment, because I would never want to leave you (or anyone else) thinking that I am saying mothers should not correct or exhort their children. Of course we do; that is huge part of our job as mothers. We are commanded to teach God’s Word to our children, just as you have quoted from Deuteronomy 6. If you have time to read the post that follows this one (March 22), you will see that I firmly believe that we should speak the word of truth to our children.

    I think you have simply misunderstood what I am saying. Maybe you don’t have the same temptation to over-talk as I do! I am addressing what I think is fairly common with us mamas. We tend to want to make change happen. I, for one, often start to fret, and then talk too much (i.e., nag) when I don’t see the changes that I think should be taking place. I grow impatient, or panic, or even get angry, and step in and try to make things happen with my words, instead of praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit to work.

    Just think about it — when we have a change in our own hearts, it is a work of the Holy Spirit. He has brought that change about (but He may very well have used the words of friends, family, pastors, authors, bloggers, etc. as part of the process).

    The same is true of our children. God uses the words of parents, church family, and so forth in our children’s lives. We’re not excused to just sit back and watch. But when their hearts truly change, it is because the Holy Spirit has accomplished that work in their hearts. We cannot take the credit for the change. Nor should we take the blame if they don’t change.

    We should pray for wisdom, for patience, for the Holy Spirit’s work in hearts. And we should be very careful to not drive our children away with our too-many-words.

  22. Thank you Pam for speaking the truth in Love. I cherish you sharing your wisdom that the Lord had taught you. It has brought me much encouragement.

  23. “I can still, by God’s grace, do it differently today. I can again confess, repent, be forgiven, and move on in the power of the Holy Spirit. I can interact with the members of my family in a constant state of dependence and prayer, asking God to work in me and through me, and resting in the fact that He will accomplish His will in spite of me.”

    And you can write about it here so we can start sooner with our kids! Thanks for a great reminder!

  24. Thank you so much for this! This is just good for me, in relationships in general- it’s easy for me to get caught up in the idea of ‘I need to help change people’ / ‘I need to help change minds’ and forget that though I may be God’s instrument at times, it is really He and only He who can work real change in people’s minds and hearts… And really, if I spent less time worrying about it and more time praying, it would do a lot more good!
    And this is good advice to put away for later use too 🙂 Thank you for sharing- you are such a blessing to so many people, and to me, and I’m so thankful for you!! God bless your day <3

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