Purposeful Parenting, Part I - Take Charge
Purposeful Parenting, Part I–– Take Charge
Let’s face it, Christian parenting isn’t easy. Prior to having children of my own, I would periodically cast a disapproving eye upon those parents who couldn’t “control” their kids. “My children will NEVER act like that,” I smugly reflected. But of course, life experience humbles us; and like many of you, I’m regularly seeking God’s wisdom in reference to being a faithful parent. God’s Word exhorts us to “bring up [our children] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4b). But that’s easier said then done, isn’t it? Thankfully, we are not left only with our fallen wisdom and the world’s tainted advice. God’s Word provides us with both explicit and implicit teaching on intentional Christian parenting. Yes, we must be intentional. If we are not, things will spiral out of control like the South Carolina Gamecock’s 2014 football season–– and we certainly wouldn’t want that, would we? Here are a few simple things to remember as we seek to faithfully raise our children in a fast-moving, technology-driven, increasingly secular, and kid-centric culture.
In the “old days” parents ran the home, not the kids. Makes sense. Parents are much older, much wiser, and much more informed than children. The Bible teaches that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (Pr. 22:15). Today, however, we live in a kid-centric culture where parents very often let children have their way on myriad fronts. Rather than parents taking charge and establishing clear boundaries and expectations in relation to church, chores, mealtimes, manners, friends, family devotions, bedtimes, entertainment, homework, etc., and requiring a healthy level of respect for adults, children –– and their oft-changing moods –– run the show. Joel Beeke rightly states that “in too many homes, the children rule the roost” (Beeke, Parenting By God’s Promises, 135).
Not only is this kid-centric arrangement bad for marriages, family life, and, ahem, sanity. It is also in the long run harmful to our covenant children. From their earliest days we are meant to foster a proper view of authority in our covenant children. God requires children to “obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). This God-ordained authority structure is massively important for children. It’s foundational to a godly upbringing. When parents show loving, kind, and patient (not harsh, overbearing, and irritable) authority in the home, guided by the Scriptures and bathed in prayer, we teach our children about the ultimate loving authority, our blessed triune God. Indeed, we, as parents, are meant to be a reflection of God’s authority in the lives of our children. We should not let the unhealthy manifestations of parental authority throw us off. Tedd Tripp writes:
Our culture tends toward the extreme poles on a continuum. In the area of authority, we tend either toward a crass kind of John Wayne authoritarianism or toward being a wimp. God calls you by His Word and his example to be authorities who are truly kind. God calls you to exercise authority, not in making your children do what you want, but in being true servants - authorities who lay down your lives. The purpose for your authority in the lives of your children is not to hold them under your power, but to empower them to be self-controlled people living freely under the authority of God. (Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, xix-xx)
Just as God does not abdicate his authority in the lives of his children for any reason, and always leads us with a strong and loving hand, we should never abdicate our God-ordained authority in the lives of our children–– even when it’s difficult, even when we are tired, even when our kids are displaying epic, Guinness Book of World Records levels of disobedience. Tripp adds, “As a parent, you must exercise authority. You must require obedience of your children because they are called by God to obey and honor you. You must exercise authority, not as a cruel taskmaster, but as one who truly loves them” (Ibid.). Our children, therefore, must always recognize that they are under our God-given authority, even as we are under God’s authority to raise our children according to Scripture. A kid-centered home is not a God-centered home, because a God-centered home is conspicuously led by parents seeking to raise their children in the Lord.
- Pastor Jon