After a particularly hard day, four-year-old Aiden walked over to his dad and sat down next to him.

“Daddy, it’s hard to obey.”

Dad answered, “Yeah, buddy. You’re telling me. That’s why we all need Jesus.”

Lessons in love, peace, patience, kindness had gone unheeded that day. The fruit of the Spirit was nowhere to be found in that little guy’s life. And he knew it. Because he’d been trying…but it’s hard.

We wish there were a formula for producing fruit in the lives of our children. Life would be so much easier! But a formulaic approach to the fruit of the Spirit is a man-centered endeavor; instead, God wants our faithfulness so He can do the empowering.

We can teach and we can model. In fact, if we’re being faithful and obedient, that’s what we’re doing as moms. But sometimes, our best efforts don’t seem to be working and fruit-seeking turns to frustration for all of us. Consider how your little guy must feel. He loves your approval, but he just can’t seem to hold that temper or muster up the patience. He struggles and struggles, and he fails.

Those struggles—that smashed fruit at the
bottom of the tree—leads to gospel opportunities.

“That’s why we all need Jesus.”

Mama does and so does her son. Because no matter how hard we try, we’re not going to reach the standard of perfection.

But there’s help.

The Holy Spirit abiding in us produces that fruit; we don’t produce it by just mustering it up and our sons don’t produce it just by remembering what Mommy said. So what do we do with love, joy, peace, patience if we can’t give our boys a formula for producing them?

We model and we teach; we draw them closer to Christ by reflecting Him.

We forget about behavior for behavior’s sake and instead we talk about how and why good behavior comes about. Because just like everything else in our lives, it’s a gift; it sure doesn’t come of our own accord. We remind our boys that their ability to be kind today came from God, and we thank Him: Thank you, Jesus, for giving Jonathan the strength to be kind to his little brother today.”

We make the Gospel more about Christ and less about us and our boys. As they see Him more, we pray they will long for His presence in their lives. Then they’ll have the help they need to put roots down and begin producing real fruit of His Spirit.


A book for adults with a great
chapter called Walk by the Spirit.