motherhood · Wifehood · women's ministry

Principle Over Practice*

One prays diligently up to two hours a day.
Another has family devotions promptly at 8:30 a.m.
Then there’s the mom who walks every day with one child in a backpack, two in a double jogging stroller.
Still another makes home-made donuts with her daughters every time it snows.
One clever woman buys pizza dough from her local pizzeria and makes her own pizzas at home to save money.
Then there is the one who keeps a budget so detailed that she even factors in the soda her husband enjoys drinking each week.
Another has taught her children to do laundry (did I mention they are 7 and 6?).

A certain phenomenon happens when I hear about things my godly friends are doing: what I never would have thought to feel guilt over, I suddenly have a nagging little voice that says, “That is a good thing she’s doing. I should be doing that thing. I am not doing that thing. I feel guilt because I am not doing that good thing.”

Before I continue, I need to make two things very clear. First, the women who do these amazing things do it humbly, not boasting about their practices. They are not the voice saying, “you need to do this, Laurie.” Second, I love to hear practical ideas of how to better serve my family. It is important to glean from others’ strengths. God uses the practices of others to inspire me and challenge me, and perhaps most important of all – humble me.

But with that said, I am grateful for a teaching I heard by a woman named Jenny Detwiler that helped me understand the difference between principle and practice. This has saved me from unnecessary guilt over things that really aren’t sin. Each of these ladies is expressing her commitment to biblical priorities through a practice that she has the grace to do given her gifting, capacity, and season of life. The principles might be communing with God through prayer, exercising to be strong for the task God has called us to, showing kindness to our families, being wise in money management, raising up children in the way they should go, etc. These are biblical principles that we are all called to, but they will find expression in a variety of ways…not all suitable to me or my family.

Jenny also suggests frequently re-evaluating your practices to be sure they are still appropriate for your season and situation. She also suggests trusting your husband’s leadership. What does he think are appropriate practices that would serve him and the children?

It has been so helpful to be freed from the subtle guilt that comes from elevating a practice over a principle.

*originally posted February, 2005

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7 thoughts on “Principle Over Practice*

  1. Thanks Laurie! I am always affected by your humility and transparency. I needed to hear this grace-filled reminder today.
    Piotr, Natalia, and I miss you all and we pray for you often.

  2. I love that teaching…one of those ones I go to mentally quite often b/c I’m in need of the reminder quite often. Another one I go to mentally (a lot lately) is Carolyn’s on sinful comparison.. I’m not sure what the title of it was. IT was given at a Celebration and the passage is from one of the Gospels about Peter being told by CHrist that he’d die a death of crucifixion. I only have the teaching on a tape. Do you know which one I’m talking about and where I could find it online if at all?

  3. I needed this reminder today. Thanks. I too often play the wannabe. I wannabe like her or her or her. Why don’t I just as quickly tell myself, “No, you really wannabe like HIM!”?

  4. Thank you for the encouraging words. I have been letting Collin & Hope watch much more TV these past few days due to some physical challenges and the subtle guilt has been nagging at me. It is a great reminder that it is our “biblical principles” that are what really matter. Our Faithful Father knows that we are made of us dust and boy do I feel like that lately. It is His kindness that brings us to a place of humility. So . . . I am thanking God for Pooh, Heffalumps, Beatrix Potter, Tylenol and even this crazy snow that keeps my active Collin busy outside!!
    Spring is coming . . . it really is!!!!

  5. This was such an encouraging post to me. I beat myself up a lot over what I don’t get done or accomplish and things I am not good at. This was such a good reminder. THANK YOU

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