Expectations & Perfection: What I Learned from Jim Bob Duggar

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are an amazing couple no matter how you look at them. For one thing, they have a lot of children, and that's amazing because God says that children are a blessing and a heritage from Him. Not only do they have a lot of children, but they're children are so sweet, loving, and have a heart for serving others. Jim Bob and Michelle are also born-again Christians and truly love the Lord, love others, and love their children.

We had the privilege and the pleasure of meeting and spending some time with Jim Bob and Michelle and their 19 children last year. It was a great experience.

For me (Tim), the best part about being there was being able to pick Jim Bob's brain a bit. He was really busy while we were there, but I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. He gave me the following advice:

Give Your Expectations to God

As parents, we naturally have expectations for our children. More often than not, though, our expectations are unfair and unrealistic. I think that I often even have higher expectations for my children than God has.

Expectations: Relationship Poison

There is a danger when we have high expectations for anyone around us -- when they fail to live up to our expectations, we can't help but be disappointed. That disappointment affects our relationships. Dr. S. M. Davis preached a message on Expectaions. You can get that message at his church's website, Solve Family Problems.com. In the message, Dr. Davis repeats the phrase, "Expectations ruin relationships."

Good Expectations

You know, Dr. Davis is right. If we have high expectations for our neighbors and loved ones, those relationships will be strained without a doubt. If we give those expectations over to God, though, we can free those around us from the stress of living up to our standard and love them for who they are.

Perfection: Forget About It

Have you ever had problems with being a perfectionist? I know I have and still do. Most first-born children (for more about birth order, see Kevin Leman's The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are) are especially prone to being perfectionists. As parents, we can also cultivate perfectionism in our children if we are overly critical. By the way, that's not something that we want to cultivate!

If we struggle with perfectionism as parents, we will hamper the creativity and drive in our children. We don't want our children to be afraid to try because they're afraid to fail. I have met people and had some very close friends that were afraid to try things as adults because they were afraid that they weren't going to be the best. One dear friend, for example, is one of the most intelligent people I have ever known, but he would get so down about not being perfect in his classes that he just stopped going. I know that his father was especially hard on him as a child.

Military Mentality

Jim Bob cautioned me that my history of military service is going to make me even more prone to perfectionism. Actually, Franicia and I have both served in the Navy. Franicia is a first-born, and I have first-born tendencies, so we both REALLY struggle with being perfectionists. This will be a continual struggle for both of us, I'm sure, but the struggle will be worthwhile.

Praise (A LOT) in Public

The last thing Jim Bob emphasized was praising in public -- praising A LOT in public. I've read several times (not sure where I read it) that we should praise 50 times more than we correct. Also, correction should be in private -- otherwise we are in danger of humiliating our children and alienating them.

Great Advice

I praise the Lord for being able to meet Jim Bob. He has encouraged me a lot through the books that he and Michelle wrote as well as through their show, 19 Kids and Counting on TLC. Hearing everything in person, though, and seeing him interact with his wife and children were so helpful.

Jim Bob is a great example to follow, but we have an even better example to follow -- the perfect example, Jesus Christ.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Me too. I can't be the husband and father I need to be unless I'm freed from my bondage to sin through being born again. What a great God we serve that provides the salvation we need through Jesus Christ. Confused? See the video here that asks the question, "Are you a good person?"