The Table Podcast

Grace-Based Parenting

In this episode, Dr. Darrell L. Bock, Dr. Tim Kimmel, and Darcy Kimmel discuss the pitfalls of fear-based and performance-based parenting, focusing on grace as the alternative. Note: This interview was recorded before March 2020.

Timecodes
00:15
The Kimmel’s heart to pastor parents
05:21
Fear-based parenting
09:13
Common parental fears
15:56
A leading cause of those fears
19:33
Performance-based parenting
23:20
Grace-based parenting
28:08
Gracious delight opens the door for discipline
33:55
Launching as the long-term goal
38:57
Grace as an instrument of love
44:50
Preparing children to launch
Resources Family Matters Why Christian Kids Rebel, Dr. Tim Kimmel  The High Cost of High Control, Dr. Tim Kimmel  Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right, Dr. Tim Kimmel  Grace-Based Discipline, Karis Kimmel Murray 
Transcript
Dr. Darrell Bock
Welcome to the table where we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at The Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And our topic today is the family, and I am surrounded by two people who work with an organization called Family Matters, which sounds like a great organization.
Darcy Kimmel
Yes, it does.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And I see the address here is Scottsdale, Arizona. Is that right?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yes, it is.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So do you all live in Arizona currently?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
We do.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. Very cool. Our guests are Tim and Darcy Kimmel. Tim is Executive Director of Family Matters, and Darcy is the Vice President there. But when I asked Tim, how should I introduce him he said, “Well, IMM,” which means International Man of Mystery.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
There you go. I think that works.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So this is a total podcast on disclosure.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
There you go.
Darcy Kimmel
He’s still a mystery to me. I’m still trying to figure him out.
Dr. Darrell Bock
After how many years of marriage?
Darcy Kimmel
47.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Oh, man. That’s even frightening to contemplate. And you’re in the hope business. You want to bring hope to families. Is that right?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. I do.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s great.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
That’s what we’re about.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So we’re excited to have you. Tim is host, a part of a conference that we’re doing here on what we call pastoring the parents. And actually, I think he’s played the cards with … “Pastoring the parents? You mean the parents need to be pastored?” Well, actually it’s the parents who are the key.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah, they are.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So we’re gonna talk about that little bit. So let me just start with the general question we open our podcast with is, how’d you get in this? What’s a good Dallas Seminary grad like you doing in a business like this?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
I know.
Dr. Darrell Bock
How did you end up in this place?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. When we were here we worked with a ministry called Young Life.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I’m a Young Life guy, too.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
And we had not been introduced to it until we came here. And we just loved the way, that winning the right to be heard, and having a relational type of evangelism. And so I was recruited by a church in Scottsdale to be their youth pastor. But as I worked for the kids, I kept thinking, “Boy, if I could just get some time with their parents, I think could we help them a little bit on that.” And then, there was a guy doing conference speaking named Dawson McAllister. Remember Dawson?
Dr. Darrell Bock
Oh, yeah. I sure do.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
And he was just overwhelmed with the demand on him, and he said, “Would you be willing to team up with me and let me start sending you out?” And we did that. And that’s how I got started in it. I never planned on this. I thought I was gonna be a pastor of a church. But apparently God doesn’t trust me with a church much longer than a weekend. And so he started doing that. But then he decided to relocate in Tennessee. And that’s when we started Family Matters. And it morphed from me speaking to youth to speaking to their parents, and then speaking to them as couples.

But God is good. And somebody helped me to … God calls most people to a church. But he calls a handful of people to the church. I’m … like you. You’re one of those, too.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. I am one of those people. So, we’re vagabonds. We just go from place to place.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
We are.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Darcy, what about you. Obviously, part of it is the connection that you have. I get that part. But how did your interest in this develop?
Darcy Kimmel
Well, we, of course, were in seminary. And at that time we were trying not to have children. We thought it might be a little better. And then we went to the church in Scottsdale, and we had a really hard time having a family. And when we finally did, I think we had been in youth ministry so long that we thought, “You know, we need to know how God wants us to parent our own children.” And we had seen the result of some poor parenting as we worked with the youth. So that’s where we started to research and just see the plan that God had for us as parents.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So it sounds like that part of what triggered your ministry was you had gone through … if I can say this … the school of hard knocks by watching some parents try and parent, maybe over parent in the process.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
I saw a lot … over parenting and under parenting.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And in the process worked out, well, how are ways we can help these parents with their kids?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
And, by the way Darrell, I never question these parents love their kids. They deeply love their children. But they were just struggling, and then, of course, the culture was changing rapidly on them and coming at them fast. And kids were changing. So in the midst of that, plus part if it was our own selfish journey. We were gonna be parents now, and we’d never done that before. We said, “Let’s try not to mess this up too badly.” And that’s when I think we got on this journey. And Darcy was, I think, really the impetus to get us to look at God through the lens of his role as a parent in the Bible. And that’s when things just started to open up for us.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. Now that’s … I’m gonna save that for later, ’cause that is really an important idea. And I’ve just heard you speak on this, and there are a ton of things. But the thing that hit me right off the bat is, after listening to your talk, I suspect I couldn’t get you to write an endorsement for being a helicopter parent.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
No. Not at all.
Darcy Kimmel
Or, what is the new one? The lawnmower parent.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Or the bulldozer parent. The just really …
Dr. Darrell Bock
Let’s go through these descriptions for people don’t know what we’re talking about, since we’re gonna challenge these pictures.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Sure.
Dr. Darrell Bock
The helicopter parent is …
Dr. Tim Kimmel
They hover.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Oh, they hover.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
They’re up close.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Always there.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
They’re always there, watching. They’re protecting.
Darcy Kimmel
They call their college student to make sure they’re up, to the point that some of the parents even want to go on job interviews with their children.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
We actually had a couple. The husband and wife were having struggles, and they confronted us … we’re walking to church in the parking lot. And he says, “Help us right now.” And she was calling her son in college to make sure he got up. She knew what his tests were, what his quiz were, what homework he had. She was tracking it and making sure he had it all done. And I’m looking at her, and I said, “You gotta stop that. You gotta … That’s not gonna work.” And she’s … but right away, “Yeah, but I’m afraid.
Dr. Darrell Bock
There’s the word.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
“I’m afraid.” And what she was mostly afraid of is that he would sleep in, and he’d flunk some things. And I says, “Who’s that gonna hurt the most?” She said, “It’s gonna hurt,” and then she realized, “It’s gonna hurt me the most. I can’t stand to see my kid not do …” And I said, “So Mom, this isn’t about loving your son. This is about loving you. And the best thing you can do for this kid is, if he doesn’t get up, let him flunk some stuff and get the consequences, figure it out, and he can pay his way out of that semester of college, and get back on track. It’s not that bad of a deal.”
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. So that’s the helicopter. So let’s come down to earth. Lawnmower parent. That’s a new one to me, and I’m feeling nervous, ’cause I already have little hair as it is.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Lawnmower parents. Teachers are very aware of these. These are parents that just mow down anybody, anything that is going to get in the way of their kid getting what that parent feels they need. And so it’s a very competitive thing. It’s …
Dr. Darrell Bock
So the scam thing that we’ve just been through on college admissions is an example of being a lawnmower parent.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Example, yeah. Or, the high school coach, the baseball coach isn’t playing their kid. And they spent years with them, with a private coach and travel ball, and the coach says, “Well, it’s because I’ve got better players. My job is to put the best players out there.”
Dr. Darrell Bock
Minor detail.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
But they … So they go to the principal and they want the coach fired. That’s a lawnmower parent.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s a lawnmower parent?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. That sounds like a nuclear parent to me. Just blow it up.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
But it also works from a very flawed view of success that I think we have been colonized into … I use that term … by our culture that success is about wealth and about beauty and power and fame. That’s not what the Bible says. And so because we buy into that, and we embrace the success illusion, and then we pass it on to our kids, we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a lot of anxiety in families.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. So let me bring up a couple of … there were a couple of other things where you said … I think we’ve already triggered one of the words, which is the word fear.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yes.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That a lot of parents operate out of a what they … there’s a lot of fear-based parenting going on, is what you say. I’d like you to unpack that for us.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
You want to take a stab at it, Darcy?
Darcy Kimmel
Well, actually it breaks your heart when you see someone who has claimed Jesus Christ as their Savior, and has the power of the Holy Spirit, and yet they are frightened, so frightened of the culture that they want to hyper protect their child. They want a good result. But that good result is not gonna come from that strategy, because we’re trying to teach our children that there’s a mighty God out there. And how can they believe that when we’re not acting like it?
Dr. Darrell Bock
So, this is a parody on a famous Bible verse. Operating out of fear is a little bit like saying, greater is he who is out there than the one who is in us.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Exactly.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. And …
Darcy Kimmel
It’s the flip.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And so, but in fact the text says, “Greater is he who is in us than the one who’s in the world.”
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. Darrell, I was doing a radio interview one time on a syndicated show. And I was talking about how God has not called us to raise safe kids, he’s called us to raise strong kids. And one of the ways you gotta do that is you got to let them be out there to see if he’s true and real by engaging the culture around them, and letting them live in it, and so forth. Well, anyway. A man called in. And he was very angry at me. And he thought I was an irresponsible voice for parenting and all because he says, “I think you’re leading parents astray, because you should always protect you kids. You should hold them away from the world.” Cloistering. That kind of thing.

And so he says, “And I’ll give an example.” He says, “If you put on a white glove, and you stick your hand in the mud, what happens?” I said, “Well, you get mud all over your glove.” He says, “You see? That’s why you can’t let your kids be around non-Christian kids, or listen to that kind of music,” or whatever. And I said, “You know, sir, I feel a little bad, ’cause I’m familiar with your analogy. Here’s what gets me about that analogy. You’re giving all the power to the mud. You’re not giving any power to the blood of Jesus.”

And I used that verse. “Do you believe, greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world? And see, somehow we have to raise our kids, understand that we believe that, we’re confident in that, and then help them.” But I want to qualify something. I’m not saying, “Throw them to the wolves.” ‘Cause the world, there’s clear and present danger out there. No doubt about it. And we gotta be aware about it, and shrewd about it. But at the same time, we gotta show them not just how to survive in a lost world, but how to thrive.

When they established the church, Paul established the church in some very vile places. If we were walking back there in Corinth, or Philippi or Athens, when you walked in the square, it was like walking through a porn shop.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. I call Corinth the Las Vegas of the ancient world.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. It was. Now when they finally got a fairly sizable church, here’s what they didn’t do. They didn’t say, “Let’s get out of here.” They didn’t do that. The said, “Let’s turn the lights on.” And what they turned the lights on with was the love of God, the mercy of God, the compassion of God for people who were just lost. And that impacted them. But I think that we enjoy such a comfortable Christian life, and it’s easy to … it becomes more of like … our church is more like Christian country clubs that we can hide in.

I just want to show balance here. Obviously little kids, you gotta be careful. But I think when we have a home that is representing the heart of Jesus, the Word of God in his heart, they can grow and thrive in that, and go out …

Dr. Darrell Bock
And I don’t know a child who grows up who won’t eventually, assuming they live, become a parent and have to make decisions for themselves. So how do you make decisions for yourself if all your decisions are being made for you by your parents?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
That’s exactly right.
Darcy Kimmel
Right. And one of the things we’re supposed to train them is how to make good choices. Well, in order to learn how to make good ones, they have to make some bad ones and suffer the consequences. That’s how they grow.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. And so I love what you all are doing because I think it … I’ve been around helicopter parents, lawnmower parents, et cetera. And of course what happens is, when the child grows up and they enter the world, what often happens is they enter the world, they’ve never had the freedom, they’ve never been taught how to responsibly deal with the freedom, and the freedom overwhelms them, and everything that the parent feared would happen to their child while protecting them, happens to the child.
Darcy Kimmel
Is twice as bad.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. Many times over.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. And it’s done in a context in which the errors and the mistakes aren’t little mistakes, they’re big mistakes. And so the shrapnel’s everywhere.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
You so … I wrote a book called Why Christian Kids Rebel. And I had a chart in there. And I said, “The two big jobs we have as parents is to protect our children, and then prepare them to ultimately be out there.” Now when they’re young, that’s the main time the age of preparation is. But when they turn about six, you want to start backing that protection … Excuse me, the age of protection. You want to start backing that protection off, down to about 12 and through their teenage years. You’re hardly making any decisions for them.
Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s like training wheels on a bike.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Exactly. But now, as the protection is backing down, the preparation is coming up to speed. And so by the when you send them off to a university or something like that, they’ve been brought up to speed. But when we’re fear-based, we’re performance-based parents, and we’re calling all the shots for them, they go off to university and we can’t believe that they’re drinking beer by the keg, buying condoms by the gross. What happened?

Well, home is basic training for real life. And people that have served in the military and basic training, there’s times where they’re trying to teach you to keep your head down on the battle field. They use real bullets. They don’t want to kill any of their people. They just say, “We want to make sure we’ve done everything to prepare them for what’s out there.” And like talking to your kids about sex. I think you gotta start talking to them when they’re five, and say, “We’re in a journey. There’s a mine field out there. Don’t worry though, we’ve been across it, and we will go across it with you.”

But Darcy’s right. They will make mistakes. They will falter. I’d rather them do that under my roof.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. And I’d rather the initial mistakes be what I call little mistakes, as opposed to the big ones that will come later.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Exactly.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So that’s the fear part. And part of it is where there is deep fear I think there’s a flip side. And the flip side is there’s a lack of trust. There’s a lack of trust in caring for the way in which God deals with people. And parenting is stewardship. You’re stewarding the life of another child. And eventually the goal of that stewardship is to … you never completely relinquish that stewardship … but to step back and prepare them for the life that they’re going to live. They’re not living … You’re not living your life through them.
Darcy Kimmel
Right. It shouldn’t be that way.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And yet what I see in a lot of fear-based parenting is this lack of trust of God, a lack of trust of trusting … If you’re part of a good community, you’re not the only person feeding into the life of this child. Your community is feeding into the life of this child. And hopefully there are good people in the community who feed into the life of the child. Virtually every teenager I know who builds character, has as close relationship with another adult who’s not a family member, who they confide in … ’cause they sometimes aren’t comfortable doing with … with a coach or a teacher, whatever, maybe a youth leader. It could be all kinds of people. So you’re not in this alone. And there are just a lot of reasons not to be fearful, is basically what I’m driving at.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. And I think, when Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the

Omega,” that was the A and Z of the Greek language he was using. And he was basically saying, I am the God who had the first word. I’m the one who’s gonna have the last one. And then, what he goes on from there, is he unpacks the revelation. And that’s the last chapter of the story. He says, “Okay, now you’re allowed to peek at the end. We win. You’re okay. You’re safe.”

Dr. Darrell Bock
And A to Z is a way of saying, “I’ve got this covered from start to finish.”
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Exactly.
Darcy Kimmel
For me, one of the triggers to fear for me is that I am not in the Word, I am not experiencing God like I should be, so I’m not trusting him, like he says to do. And it’s not a good way to train your children to trust God either, when they see you not trusting him.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. Obviously, if it’s not being modeled, it’s not …
Dr. Tim Kimmel
By the way, we ought to qualify, that some people are fearful because they were raised that way. And so that’s part of the model that they had. And then, let’s be honest, some people went through some real crises, and there’s a lot of pain and hurt. No one’s trivializing the severity of that. That’s real stuff. But what we want to do is make sure that we’re bring God, the hope of the Gospel to the middle of it, and the Holy Spirit is in this. He says, “You know what kind of power I have … put in you? My presence is in you.” It’s the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead. And so …

But I think, more than anything … We could talk about the flaws of fear-based parenting, but the only real antidote to that is an intimate heart connection with the Lord. And when we’re in pursuit of God’s heart I think he starts to belay those fears, and we just start to trust him.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, before I turn there I want to deal with two other things that are in this bucket. First is … and this is also another balancing remark. It isn’t to say that the risks that are out there aren’t real, and the risks that are out there aren’t dangerous. They are. And it isn’t to say that a parent who hovers or mows isn’t expressing concern for their child. It’s actually a deep concern that’s present. That’s important to recognize. The question is how to deal with that risk, and how to deal with that concern in a way that ends up helping the child move into adulthood and face life.

And so there’s another category that you raise that I want to touch on briefly before we turn to the solution, and that is, in one sentence you had fear, and you juxtaposed it to performance. Or another way I think you said is you talk about people either care about risk or they care about their safety and image maintenance.

Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. Image management, spiritual image control, sin management. These are all things that I think many times when we bought in to a misunderstanding that the Christian life is a performance, that we are being judged and valued … By the way, some churches, you have reason to feel that way.
arrell Bock
Right. Absolutely.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
There’s … You’re gonna be marginalized or condemned if your kids act a certain way. But we’re very aware that the church has always struggled with legalism. But it is just, brings the worst out of a family. So I look at all this stuff, and I see evangelical behavioral modification going on in a lot of homes. But that’s all surfacy. It’s outside in. And I think it lends itself to high control, too.

For instance, I wrote a book called The High Cost of High Control, and I define a high control as when I leverage the strength of my personality or my position against your weaknesses in order to get you to meet my selfish agenda. And many times the selfish agenda is, I want my kids to make me look like I’m not that goofy a parent.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Right, right.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
But they’re gonna make mistakes. And then the whole sin management thing, one of the things that I think parents think, “If I just keep my kids away from certain temptations and certain problems out there, well then they won’t fall into it.” By the way, there’s some things you want to guard them from, but you want to say, “Mom and Dad, that problem’s already onboard.”
Darcy Kimmel
Sin is in the camp.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
It’s in the camp, whether you expose them to it or not. You gave birth to a kid that has a sin problem. And the only people that ever give me push back on it are people that have no kids. Once you have a kid it’s, “Oh, yeah. I know.” [Laughter]
Dr. Darrell Bock
One round of terrible twos takes care of that.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah, yeah. The sin nature that we inherit is so easy to prove. When you talk to parents, “Did you have to teach your kid to talk back to you, or to lie, or to clobber … hit their sibling, or whatever?” No, no. “Did you ever have to teach them to say please or thank you, or I’m sorry?” All the good stuff you have to teach them. All the bad stuff, they know. But the Bible tells us that. But that’s why … We have a solution in that in the Gospel.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Right. So let’s turn in that direction. Let’s talk about grace. I think the line that I caught on that goes in this direction is that you want people, you want to treat kids the way God treats us. And so, and I think I get what’s in the background of that. If God had evaluated and treated us on the basis of our performance, it’d be a short show.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
We’d all have “Rest in Peace” in front of us.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right. So, we are the recipient of God’s immense grace, his love, his kindness, his patience, his endurance, his perseverance, and even his enablement. He even supplies what we lack, and offers to take what we deserve. You put that all together, so what does that look like in a parent?
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. And right away, let’s deal with the elephants in the room, or … what’s another way of putting it … the … what did I call those things … the urban legends, the evangelical urban legends that have been out there, that the assumption that grace, when you start talking about grace and relationships and parenting, it’s like letting kids get away with murder, and not having any boundaries, and no consequences, and no discipline, and all. But see, that’s a misunderstanding of grace. Discipline is a form of grace. It’s saying, “I love you too much to stand idly by and watch you grow up to be a fool. I’m gonna stand on your air hose. I’m gonna correct you, ’cause I care.”
Dr. Darrell Bock
But I’m also gonna let you make decisions. It’s your life. It’s your actions. It’s your response … you’re actually teaching them stewardship, and they have to steward what’s in their lives. You can’t steward it for them.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
That’s exactly right. Especially as they move into those teenage years, you gotta hand a lot of it over to them. And then, one of the freedoms that God gives us is he gives us the freedom to be imperfect, or to make mistakes. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences. But he’s saying, when I say the freedom, mean, “My love for you is not attached to your behavior. So if you get it wrong, don’t worry about whether my love is there.” And that’s … I don’t think a lot of Christians actually believe that.

And so when we start to connect our frustration with our kid or, “You embarrass me,” or, “I’m so let down by you,” and on and on and on, and the kids start realizing, “My mom’s affection and concern for me is … “

Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s not about me, it’s about her.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. And I’ve gotta jump through all these hoops. It gives a bad idea of what God … God doesn’t treat us that way. And so treat them like he treats us. He loves us. He’s long suffering. He’s forgiving. He never gives up on us. And I think, if a person just has one person in their life of influence who treats him like that, it’s amazing what God can do. And, we have moms and dads.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I can’t get past this without thinking about the amount of testimonies that I think I’ve heard … testimonies are a big deal in the church … that go something like this. “When I was trying to struggle to find myself or et cetera, this teacher or this coach or someone came alongside me and said, ‘Look. A lot of people may not think you’re anything, but I think you are great,’” and stood behind them and got behind them and was … The Hendricks Center is named after Howard Hendricks. He was adopted. And one of the great stories that he tells is he was seen … he was ADD and wound up and …
Dr. Tim Kimmel
I know all about that.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I do, too. And so you know what that’s like, and you know how people say, “Just control the kid. Could you please just control the kid?” And someone came along and said, “I believe in you,” and was a … He walked into a class … the way this story goes…I heard Bill tell this…he walked into a class, and the teacher says, “Your reputation has come before you, and I don’t believe a word of it.” Changed his life. I had a sixth grade English teacher. Same thing with me, basically. And so someone comes alongside and says, “I believe in you,” and then does the nurturing that is required. I had a high school coach who taught me the value of discipline. I can’t just do anything I want any way I want it. That is very, very destructive. But I also knew he cared about me.
Darcy Kimmel
Well, and I think so many times we forget that delight, a gracious delight sets the table for discipline. That if a child knows that you think they hung the moon, and you’re there for them, then, when you have to say, “Sit down here. We need to talk about something,” whether you’re a parent or a coach, you talk about something that needs changed or disciplined, their ears are open. Their heart is not closed. But they need to know that we delight in them.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. When people care, then … when they know we care, then they will care about how we communicate with them. And that is an extremely important idea, it seems to me.

Another line that you have … I’m going through these ’cause they’re all so good … “Don’t yell, scream, or shame them.”

Dr. Tim Kimmel
Right. Simply, ’cause God doesn’t do that to you and me. He doesn’t. And if anybody had a right to, God does. I wrote one time. I was listening to the lament of these parents. And they were … it was in the Sunday School class, and they were just saying, “I don’t get it. We gave this child life. And, we’ve provided for them. We’ve been protecting them. We’ve been trying to give their life meaning. We’re always there for them, and they treat us like we don’t exist.” And they’re talking to God that way. And God says, “Welcome to my world. That’s how you deal. I’ve had to do that with you. And yet, my love for you has nothing to do with that. It cares.” And I like to define grace as giving people something they desperately need, but don’t necessarily deserve.

And so, bless their hearts …

Darcy Kimmel
Parents do that all the time.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. And you’re talking about somebody believe in you. When we became grandparents for the first time … Excuse me, when we became parents for the first time, Karis was born, our girl. And it was born in the middle of the night. At one o’clock she had a emergency C-section. So, that night, when I was there, you have on hospital scrubs. And so, you look like you work there, but I was just there to become a dad. So I’m so excited about this brand new baby. And she was in a nursery.
Darcy Kimmel
Bassinet.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
A little bassinet. But she’s the only one in there. And she was wrapped up like a little burrito. And about two o’clock in the morning, these two elderly people came flying in to the visiting … and came up to the glass. And they’re looking down. And apparently it’s a set of grandparents. And they think this is their grandchild. And I saw immediate heart connection in them. They were just going on and on, and they’re crying, and all that stuff. And the problem was, I didn’t recognize. So they weren’t our … But, Darrell, there was one other baby born that night, but he wasn’t in a bassinet, because our baby was six pounds …
Darcy Kimmel
11 ounces.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
11 ounces. This child was over 13 pounds. So he wouldn’t fit in the bassinet. And he was over on like a forklift over in the side there. And I realized, “Oh, that’s the grandparents of this child.” And I had to get their attention. And I mouthed the words … And I pointed over. I said, “He’s yours.” And their look of horror… they were horrified when they saw the gigantic baby over there. But then when … I saw something amazing happen. It’s a God thing. They disconnected. They went over there, and then I went an shoved that baby’s thing, that platform they had him on over to the window, and they started crying over that one. And I said, “See. That’s a thing that God does.” He hooks us up to these kids and grandkids. And if that’s all they have, it’s amazing how far they can get through life.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. I still remember very vividly when our first girl was born. We were in Aberdeen in Scotland, and they handed me the baby for the first time. And I’m holding this child, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a other moment in life where I went, “This is a … what just happened is a miracle. Period. Period. Period.” And just overwhelmed with the sense of “I am now participating in a moment in which life is being passed on.” And just the sense of overwhelming amazement. And then,
Darcy Kimmel
Responsibility, and stewardship.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right. In fact, when I do premarital counseling, I say to couples, I say, “I’m gonna tell you something that’s gonna happen. I’m telling you it’s gonna happen so that when it happens, you know that it’s gonna happen, and you know it’s okay.” And what I say is, “At some point after you get married, you will understand what you had just vowed you were committing yourself to. You wake up and you go, ‘I am with this person for the rest of my life.’”
Darcy Kimmel
For better or for worse.
Dr. Darrell Bock
There’s no out.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
No turning back.
Dr. Darrell Bock
No turning back. And I say, “And that will initially horrify you.”
Dr. Tim Kimmel
What were we thinking on that day, that this was actually a good idea.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Good idea. Exactly. And you have that, and I say, “That is a perfectly normal reaction. It’s good. When it happens go, ‘Okay. I was told about this. It’s okay. It’s natural.’ And then just settle in for the long haul.”
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Exactly right. And that’s where the real love starts to happen.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right. And having a child, I don’t think we … when we hold the child I don’t think we go through that experience, but we go through an experience that says, “All of a sudden I realize that I am … initially—this is important–initially responsible for what happens with this little package of life that I’m holding.” But the whole goal of the exercise is graduation.
Darcy Kimmel
It’s a job.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly.
Darcy Kimmel
It has a goal.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
By the way, and I think that that’s another thing that it makes it tough when we are fear-based or performance-based, because, see, I wrote a book called Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right. Talking about building character in them. And what I was trying to help people see in the title is the mistake we make is trying to raise kids who go through childhood right. ‘Cause that makes us outside in, performance-based sin managers, and so forth. Instead of saying, “No. They’re gonna struggle. They’re gonna make mistakes. They’re gonna … That’s fine. We’re gonna work with them through that.”

But I’m out there and I’m trying to picture what does that kid need to have out there to thrive? And probably the biggest thing you want to make sure when he leaves home is he has confidence in a God that’s never gonna leave him or forsake him. And that is not so much taught through the Bible. That’s taught through them seeing us live that out in their parents.

Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right. So let’s talk about character here, ’cause obviously character’s a key part of this we’re talking about. So you’re teaching them faith, you’re teaching them integrity, you’re teach … and by faith we mean trust. You had poise in the list. When I heard that I went, “Now that one’s interesting.” I’ve never heard the fruit of the spirit as poise. So …
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Let me tell you how that came up. There’s so many words in the Bible about … deportment type words. And so I got out, remember the old Young’s Exhaustive Concordance?
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
I spent a day at this thing. And I started in letter … first page. And I went through. And every time I saw a word in the Bible talking about how we’re supposed … I wrote it on, very small, on a piece of paper. 8-1/2. And I just wrote all these words out. And when I got done, I went all the way through Z. Took me hours and hours. When I was done …
Dr. Darrell Bock
You went to Young’s, and by the time you were done you were old.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. [Laughter] I looked through that and I said, “Now I can see some of these things are … they’re synonyms. And so I took another piece of paper out and started … and I … into six categories. And then I took that word out of there that you could put at the top that the other ones are good sub points of. And that worked for five words, faith, integrity, discipline, endurance, and courage.

But there was this one thing, this kind of balance, equilibrium, whatever. And I borrowed an English word, poise. In Ecclesiastes 7, he says, this is the NIV, he says, “Do not be over righteous. Neither be too wise. Why destroy yourself? And do not be like foolish, don’t be a fool. Why die before your time? It’s better to grasp the one and not let go of the other.” Then here’s the punchline. “The man who fears God avoids all extremes.” And see, poise is helping them get equilibrium.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So it’s balance.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
It’s balance. For instance, you were talking about fear. There’s certain fear we’ve gotta have. There’s a good fear. I’m afraid to cross the freeway on foot. I don’t want to do that. But then, take any good word you have and put the word toxic in front of it, and you could find, oh even the good stuff can become toxic when it’s working against us. Whether it’s fear, toxic … there’s such a thing as toxic compassion, where we’re trying to help somebody so much that we’re making them helpless.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, in fact that’s actually what we’ve been talking about. The whole first half of this podcast was nothing but someone trying to help someone, well-motivated, well-intentioned, but everything that’s being done actually undercuts the development of the person.
Darcy Kimmel
Right. Undermines it.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
It’s misguided. Well-intended but …
Darcy Kimmel
And you use the definition. Poise is the keen sense of the appropriate. And so for our children, if you’re trying to build into them a secure love, they need to feel like someone has taught them how they should react in given situations.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. So take music. When people say, “Oh, hip hop music is evil.” No. There’s good hip hop, bad hip hop. Help them how to show … teach them how to show the difference. There’s good video games, there’s … Teach them how to figure out the difference. That’s equilibrium. Even with the kids’ friends, we said, “Look. You’re gonna have two types of friends. You’re gonna have asset friends, and liability friends. Now they all need a friend. And I want you to be a friend to them all. Just don’t ask the liability friends any advice. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t confide in them, ’cause they don’t know how to handle that.”
Dr. Darrell Bock
So this is balance, it’s wisdom, it’s a lot of things that are wrapped up in the … And I guess what we’re driving at with this series of questions is, there’s a lot of stuff that people do that deal with what’s going on externally. But what you are pushing for, and what you’re talking about is actually getting people to think about what’s going on internally. And in the midst of thinking about that, it isn’t just the outcome that’s important, it’s the motivation for the outcome that’s important. Those kinds of questions. And that’s where I sense you’re pushing.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
It’s ultimately what we’re about. I feel bad, and sometimes I just have to flip the cards over, when I’m brought into a church to do a parenting conference or a marriage conference or something. I say, “I gotta be honest with you. I know it says marriage, parenting. That’s not the primary focus that I’m here. It’s more about you, individually, and the Lord. You personally, Mom. You personally, Dad, or husband and wife. That’s where so much of this is gonna be won or lost. And God wants to parent with them. He wants to be alongside them and journey with them.

But it starts with, I think, trusting him. And I think the word plays a role in it.

Darcy Kimmel
And the starting point is so important, as you talked about, the three ways that we approach dilemmas, that if you have a flawed starting point, which an over protective parent would, then you’re not gonna like the result. It’s not gonna be what you had put all this blood, sweat, and tears toward. And kids rebel, then.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
And that’s why we like the word grace, because we think grace … we could have use the word love, but let me differentiate between those two. They’re clearly connected at the hip, but they’re different words in the Bible, and actually there are different words for love in the Bible. So, I look at…love is, that the number one reflection of our … as us as image bearers of God. He’s love. What I see grace as is the Kevlar God wants to put over our love, to protect it. Because the onboard love we have just cannot sustain the carpet bombing that we’re gonna take from the culture around us, or even from our fears and insecurities on the inside.

But grace comes in there. And that’s why quantifying grace for us changed everything. ‘Cause when I saw what … this is what God’s grace looks like played out in real time, this is how he’s dealing with me. These are the needs he’s meeting in me all the time. These are the freedoms he’s given me. These are the character muscles he’s building me. These are the heart qualities he’s building into me. So why don’t I just turn around and be a vessel of that into my kids’ life.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So love … I’m gonna try and summarize what you just said. So love is what we are to possess, but grace is how we deliver it.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
That’s exactly right. That’s what it looks like, with sweat all over it or a gun to your head.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. Because I can love with all the great intentions someone might have. But if I’m not delivering it in a way that reflects the character of God, then I’m actually … I’m creating static delivery. And I’m not seeing what love really is designed to be.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Our daughter wrote the book Grace Based Discipline. And she makes such a great distinction on this very thing. She says, “The biggest difference between grace-based parenting and … as grace-based parents never punish their kids. They only discipline them.” And she says, “The reason is, because God doesn’t punish his kids, at least not anymore, because he sent his son to take our punishment.” That’s been taken care … Because punishment is just …
Darcy Kimmel
It’s retribution.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
It’s retribution. It’s evening a score. Where discipline is, yeah, it’s consequences, but it’s designed to draw that person into something far better. And that’s what God does with us. Them whom he loves he disciplines.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So …
Dr. Tim Kimmel
But grace just changes everything. It comes to our rescue.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. And it gives breathing room. It allows people to breathe. There’s a wonderful chapter in Matthew 18. It’s talking about the relationships in the church. It’s not talking about the family. But it talks about the spiritual responsibility we have to one another, and talks about failure. But the whole last part of the chapter is about how if God has forgiven you this great debt, then you ought to be able to forgive a little debt. There’s a parable that’s built around that. And I’m sitting here going, “Isn’t it interesting that this chapter, where there’s spiritual responsibility, the woe to the one who leads the little one into sin … I call that the Mafia passage. It’s better to be deep sixed in the sea than to … And it’s dire, some of it. But it’s designed to communicate …

And then that’s wrapped … your Kevlar image … it’s wrapped in this picture of forgiveness, which is supposed to give people breathing room in the midst of this mutual accountability that it’s also asking for simultaneously, that balance, that poise.

Dr. Tim Kimmel
We like to say that a lot of parents think that they’re performing, ’cause they think what they kids need are perfect parents. No. They’d never … They don’t need … They just need imperfect, grace-filled parents. It’s amazing what God can do through that. We’re all gonna … As Dennis Rainey likes to say, “We’re all crooked sticks. But God picks up crooked sticks and draws straight lines with them all the time.” But it’s him doing it through us. And that’s the difference.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. Learning how to fail in a world that’s full of failure is actually a pretty important skill. And so it’s challenging …

There’s one other concept I want to try and sneak in right here at the end as we wrapping down. And I really like this. I like the picture … I’m gonna try and summarize it this way. You have this four part thing where you talk about you need to prepare your child, free their child, empower the child. But I like the last goal. You need to aim them. Where are you … You have an understanding of where you’re taking them, and you’re taking them … now we joked about this earlier … you’re taking them to graduation in one sense. You’re taking them to a place where you go hands off.

Darcy Kimmel
That’s right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And I think what I’m hearing you say is, the earlier you back off and give them an understanding of the space that they’re gonna live in as their lives, the better you serve the child.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Absolutely. My father had … there was five boys, one girl. For us five boys he had two rules. He says, “I don’t want you breaking these rules.” And he thought he was being clever when he said it. He said, “I want you in by 12, and I want you out by 18.” And he was serious. He says, “You’ve got to launch.” Now, he was serious, so serious that my one brother, who was still in high school, when his birthday, he says, “Your birthday present from me is you are now 100 percent free. You can do anything you want. You’re also 100 percent responsible. And that means for rent. And rent’s always paid in advance, and you owe me for this month.” And he put some price on it.
Darcy Kimmel
But you knew it was coming.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
But we all knew it was coming. And he said, “Look. I’m not gonna have you all ready, but I’m gonna do my best to have you ready to take that first step.” But, you see, I hurt my … it’s not being compassionate to a child if I’m a parent, not preparing them to take … but he … But ultimately what you want them to do, they’re not going off alone, if they’re going off with Jesus tucked in their heart with a … They saw a confident faith in their parents, and they’re taking off with it.

But, by the way, for the parents that their kids take off, and it doesn’t look like Jesus has any part of your life, he who began a good work in them, he’ll perfect it in good time.

Darcy Kimmel
Right. Don’t give up.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Don’t ever give up on them.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And you never know when it might happen.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
That’s exactly right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I think that, yeah, I have a brother who came to the Lord at 55. He was on an original “least likely to convert” list. I used to joke about this when I was younger. I put my brother on that list with Khrushchev and Castro. He was such a skeptic, and boom, in his 50s, all of a sudden, he went through some stuff in life, and he changed. And so, you hope for that. And the people who were responsible for contributing to that were people literally that God brought into his life. I had absolutely nothing to do with it. And so, yeah.

So we want to aim well as parents, right? We want them to aim well. We want to give them the space to fly.

Dr. Tim Kimmel
And the big mistake is if we aim them at the world’s view of success. That’s where we get off course. That’s all about wealth, beauty, power, fame, and all that stuff. No. You want to aim them at … The basic thing of discipleship we talked about this morning. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind. Love neighbors as yourself.” Just go out and care. And them, meanwhile, you’ve got an education, you’ve got skills, and you can get a job and … Show them what love looks like played out in real life. They’ll be fine.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And recognize that the power that God gives us when he gives us his Spirit is greater than anything we face that’s out there. And so he can be trusted.

Well, I want to thank you both for taking the time to discuss this, and hopefully it’s been a help for people. We thank you for your ministry, Family Matters. familymatters.net, Is that the website?

Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah. There’s plenty there for them to learn from. And the small group Bible studies, the only bad thing is they have to invite Darcy and I to their Bible studies. She does the intros and exits. But we get them unpacked. We get them really dealing with the parts of grace, and how to play that out. And when they start to interact with their friends, and get deeper in the Scriptures, it comes alive for them.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s great.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Yeah.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, thank you for doing this.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
You’re welcome.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We really do appreciate it. And we thank you for being a part of the table. We hope you’ll be back with us again soon. If you have a topic you would like for us to consider for a future episode, please feel free to email us at thetable@dts.edu. We take them under consideration. We figure out, alright, that’s a great topic. Who should we interview to deal with it? And we’re off and running. So we appreciate your involvement with us at the table, and we, again, hope to see you again soon.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Tim Kimmel
Dr. Tim Kimmel is the founder and Executive Director of Family Matters, whose goal is to see families transformed by God’s grace into instruments of reformation and restoration. Tim develops resources for families and churches and conducts conferences across the country on the unique pressures that confront today's families. Not only is Tim a well-known speaker, he has authored many books including: Grace Based Parenting and, most recently, Connecting Church and Home and Grace Filled Marriage. Tim and his wife Darcy count their role as parents and grandparents as one of their greatest joys. God has blessed them with four children, their spouses, and a growing flock of grandkids.
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