All Articles Make Disciples Support

Are You Raising a Pharisee or a David?

Are we raising Pharisees or Davids?
Laura Kuehn, LCSW
Written by Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Christian parents want children who follow the Lord. But what that looks like might not be what we’d expect.

As a Christian parent, your automatic response to this question is likely “a David.” After all, God called David a man after His own heart. What Christian parent wouldn’t aim for that?

However, if we examine this question a little closer, some of us may find that what we really want is something else.

Who were the Pharisees?

Pharisees have quite a reputation among the Christian community. We associate them with legalism, rigidity and pride – and rightfully so. But if you were alive in Biblical times, you might have a whole different take on them. In Jesus’ day Pharisee’s were among the most respected religious leaders. They were righteous, law abiding . . . as close to perfect as you could get. Even Paul referred to his former life as a Pharisee as “faultless” (Phil 3:6).

Who was David?

David on the other hand was a bit of a mess. He lusted. He committed adultery. He purposely deceived. He arranged a murder. He called for a census in direct opposition to God’s command. And he did absolutely nothing when one of his son’s raped his daughter, Tamar (see 2 Sam 13).

This was the man after God’s own heart?

This is who we say we want our kids to be like?

The Key Difference

By all intents and purposes, the Pharisees were perfect. They did everything “right.” They tithed, they followed God’s law to the letter, they prayed. In effect their lives were completely devoted to God. On the outside they looked good, godly and holy. That is what everyone around them saw. In fact, if you lived back then, you might have said, “Gee, I wish I could be more like the Pharisees. They have it all figured out.”

But that is not what Jesus saw. He saw through the facade, right into their hearts.

The key difference between the Pharisees and David was the condition of their hearts. David’s heart was messy and unkempt, at times full of his own desires and, at times, emptied out before God for Him to fill. David’s heart had room for God, softened by the remorse over his sins (see Psalm 51:4). The Pharisees, on the other hand, had hearts filled with their own righteousness – filled so full that there was no room for God at all. Their hearts, like their behaviors, were polished to perfection, into a shiny, impenetrable shell.

Implications for the Christian Parent

We may say that we want Davids, but do we really? Are we concerned more with behavior that is right or with hearts that are right? Do we fear sin in our children? Do we worry about what our children’s behavior says about us as parents? Are we concerned about how our children appear before man or how they will stand before God?

We can insulate, indoctrinate and regiment our children’s spiritual journey by restricting what they see, read or hear. We can control their prayer time, devotional time and behavior. All of this may produce a “good” Christian child – one who might make other parents think, “Gee, their kids are so good –they have it all figured out.” But without a focus on the heart, we may end up raising Pharisees instead of Davids.

Take some time to pray today. Ask God to give you the strength and courage to raise Davids: full of faults, but whose hearts are soft toward God.

Additional Resource:

Helping Children Understand the Importance of the Heart

Heart of the Matter Parenting Cards

Using the Circle of Blessing with Kids

[Photo credit: kovicdub from]

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker with a specialization in children and families. CfP is the place she combines some of her very favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She loves encouraging parents to build their families upon Jesus, the one true Cornerstone. She is happily married to a wonderfully supportive husband and is the mother of two delightfully inspiring children.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.