Learning from Others’ Mistakes

Learning from Others’ Mistakes
by Rhonda Stoppe


I am extremely grateful for the women in my life who, through their examples, have taught me how to be a godly mother. I have learned valuable lessons from them—they have made themselves vulnerable to me, and humbly taught me from their errors. And today, when I teach other women, my teaching is most passionate when I caution them from my own regretful mistakes.

Remember Rebekah the mother of the twins Jacob and Esau in the Bible? She made some serious mistakes when she advised her younger son Esau to deceive his father to steal the birthright from his older brother, Esau.

What can we glean from Rebekah’s mistakes? Let’s take a look:

Learning from Others’ Mistakes

Don’t obsess over the immediate. When Isaac announced it was time for him to pass the birthright on to Esau, Rebekah obsessed over Jacob receiving the blessing. She did not consult God—or her husband, Isaac.

Rebekah evidently got caught up in the urgency of the moment, as if it were up to her to set things right before it was too late. I do that sometimes. How about you? I become so shortsighted by worry over the outcome of a particular circumstance I forget that God is in con- trol and will take care of things in His time. God’s plans go far beyond my immediate concern—and yours.

As it turned out, Isaac didn’t die right away. He ended up living for another 43 years, which would have been plenty of time for God to orchestrate what He had promised. If Rebekah had kept her focus on the Lord rather than the circumstance, she likely would have seen God accomplish His miraculous plan according to His schedule, not hers.

If you keep your gaze fixed on the affairs of life, you will ride a roller coaster of emotions. Elation, fear, and all the feelings in between may cause you to respond without depending on God and fully considering the consequences. 

When you focus on God, who is the only one who knows the times and seasons, you will develop a peaceful confidence no matter what happens. The more disciplined you are in fixing your eyes on Jesus, the more the Lord will teach you to rest in His sovereignty over life’s events. And when your child observes your calm assurance in Christ, he will learn—from your example—how to trust the Lord in all the circumstances of his life.

Never play favorites. Jacob enjoyed staying close to home and work- ing with his mother in the kitchen. Esau was a rugged hunter who was often away. Because Jacob spent more time with his mother, it would make sense that he and Rebekah would have a closer bond.

Sadly, when Rebekah’s elaborate plan of deception was played out, she seemed more concerned about Jacob receiving the birthright than about how her deeds would affect Esau. Rebekah’s preferential treatment drove a wedge between her sons.

While it may be a natural tendency for you as a parent to be drawn to the child who shares your interests or is easier to talk to, playing favorites with your children will fuel disastrous dissension. And if you have a stepchild or an adopted child, you must work extra hard to treat all of your children fairly. Partiality is sure to produce volatile consequences among adopted kids or stepchildren.

Romans 2:11 says, “There is no partiality with God.” This is one of several passages of Scripture that teaches God is committed to loving each of His children without favoritism. To assure peace among your children, follow God’s example and commit to loving every one of them without preferential treatment.

As you walk in the Spirit—that is, live in submission to His leading in your life—He will equip you to love each of your children with a selfless, genuine love. As your kids observe your wholehearted devotion to each of them, they will gain a total sense of security. Resting in your unconditional love, they will be free from the pressure to measure up in some way or outdo their siblings.

Children who sense that all the siblings are loved equally will be less competitive with each other. They can enjoy their brothers and sisters without reservation as they celebrate your fond affection for every child in the family. Through God’s strength, you can discipline yourself to express equally wholehearted love to all of your children.

As our kids were growing up, they would regularly ask, “Who’s your favorite?” To which I always responded, “Daddy.” Steve was also surveyed frequently, and his response was always, “Your Momma. You guys are all gonna grow up and leave me. She’s gonna be here when you’re gone!”

Each time our children asked this question, they were exasperated by our answers. They would roll their eyes and groan. However, every time we responded to them with the same answers, their security was reassured. Mommy and daddy love each other, and no matter what, the only one favored in this family is daddy (or mommy).

Take a moment and ask the Lord to show where you may be favoring one child over another. If God reveals something to you, are you willing to repent and make the changes necessary to make sure you are loving each of your children equally? 

The ends do not justify the means. Rebekah was willing to do whatever was required to make sure Jacob received the birthright that belonged to Esau. She became so preoccupied with making sure Jacob would rule over his older brother that she lost her perspective over right and wrong.

Bent on controlling the circumstances, Rebekah deceived her husband, involved Jacob in a façade that manipulated people, and betrayed her older son. Although her intentions might appear honor- able because she wanted to cause what God had promised, she wrong- fully took charge of the situation instead of leaving it in God’s hands. Her motives and actions were sinful.

An attempt to use any means necessary to bring about a positive result is called situation ethics. This approach to life has become a serious problem in our culture today. The well-known mantra “Finders keepers, losers weepers” is a perfect example of how our worldview is influenced by an ends justify- the means mentality. 

People view the world as a place to get ahead, and that way of thinking guides how they respond to situations.

Your child is growing up among peers who have been taught they are justified in doing whatever is necessary to gain what they feel they are entitled to. If you are going to raise children who will have a positive influence on the integrity of his generation, it must begin with you. It is vital you teach your son by example—right is right no matter what the cost.

As a mother, you exert a tremendous amount of influence on how your child will grow up. If you determine to raises your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, you will have a profound influence on a new generation––isn’t that exciting?

What might our world look like if mothers took seriously their call to instill godly principles and values into their child’s character? How differently might your children influence tomorrow’s events if you commit to raising them with strong moral qualities? With your words and actions, will you answer that call?*

*Excerpt from “Moms Raising Sons to be Men” (Harvest House 2013). 


IMG_9851Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. With more than 30 years experience of helping women live life with no regrets.
Rhonda Stoppe’s book MOMS RAISING SONS TO BE MEN is mentoring thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life. Her new book IF MY HUSBAND WOULD CHANGE I’D BE HAPPY-And Other Myths Wives Believe (Harvest House Publishers) is helping countless women build no-regrets marriages. As a pastor’s wife, speaker, and author, Rhonda has helped women to:

* Discover significance and

LISTEN TO THIS RADIO EXCERPT of Rhonda Stoppe on “The Road Show” with Host Laurette Willis: “Exchanging Your Dreams for God’s Plans”

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