“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” -James 5:16

What a precious thing it is for a husband and dad to lead his wife and kids in spiritual conversations! To open up the Bible, to discuss with them what a certain passage means, and to explain to them why we need Jesus. But how can dads pass on a faith in Jesus to their kids that not merely informs their minds, but also transforms their hearts?

One powerful way dads can do this is by being the chief confessors of sin in their family. When we say something careless to our wives in front of our kids, we need to acknowledge our sin and apologize for it to our wife and kids. When we allow our tempers to get the best of us, and we yell at our kids in anger, we need to come back to them and confess to them that we were wrong, and ask them for forgiveness. Can you imagine how families would be spiritually shaped for the good if they had dads who regularly asked them for forgiveness? I can think of at least three benefits:

First, when a dad confesses his sin to his wife and kids, he shows them that his Christian faith is real. It’s not mere talk or a Sunday morning ritual. When dads confess sin to their families because they’re genuinely sorry for their sin, their families see that their dad truly wants to follow Jesus and bring him glory. That’s a powerful testimony!

Second, when a dad confesses his sin to his family, he models for them how to confess sin to others. If we expect our kids to confess their sins, then what better way to help them than to model it for them. If the Lord helps us as dads to confess our sins with genuineness and godly sorrow, then our kids will hopefully see what the tenor of confession should be—not one of empty words that simply hopes to avoid punishment, but a sincere remorsefulness that comes from the conviction that we’ve sinned against God and others.

Third, when a dad confesses sin to his family, he shows them that Jesus is the true hero they need most. Kids don’t need dads who have it altogether and who never make mistakes; kids need dads who believe that they need Jesus a lot. Confessing our sin to our families provides a very natural way to explain to our kids why the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is great news for those who trust in him! Jesus is the hero our kids need most, and confessing our sin helps them understand that.

So, the next time we dads are convicted of the way we’ve sinned against our wives and kids, let’s be men who love God and our families enough to confess our sins with sincerity and to cling to the cross with ferocity!

Dan Hallock is the lead pastor at Cedarhome Baptist Church in Stanwood, Washington. He’s blessed with a beautiful and forgiving wife, Cindy, and three great kids: Jackson, Grace, and Josiah.