What About When Parenting Doesn’t Work?
Parenting works when both spouses work hard at it and the children are willing to listen. Parenting doesn’t work when both spouses refuse to work hard at it. Parenting is difficult when only one spouse works hard at it and the other doesn’t. Not matter your situation, if you want to shepherd your children’s hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel then the father and mother both should work hard to make it that way. You can’t control your spouse nor can you force your children to love God (they have their own free wills), but you can do your part to biblically parent your children and glorify God in the process.
Encountering Problems In Parenting
- Summary: Biblical parenting is all about shepherding your children’s hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel. God has given authority to parents over their children to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. By faith, parents faithfully apply the biblical method of the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction) as God works in the hearts of their children. They train their children in the Lord—meaning they are intentional and habitual about instructing their children in the Christian way. They do their best to organize family worship, establish a household of grace and with the right attitudes, fulfill their biblical roles as fathers and mothers. Problem: But what if it doesn’t work?—Meaning your child doesn’t respond properly to the parenting. Every situation and scenario is different, and too numerous to mention individually, but if your children are still young and living under your authority, please remember the following:
Psalm 78:1-8; Proverbs 4:23; 22:6; 29:15; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:21; Titus 2:11-15; Joshua 24:15; Titus 2:4-5
- (1) Continue to faithfully apply all that was mentioned above (please review the parenting lessons) in regard to biblical parenting. Parents are responsible for the right process not the result. Ask yourselves: Are we truly applying the biblical principles of parenting in a consistent and biblical manner? Where do we need to improve? (If you think your children have mental or other medical issues, please see a doctor.)
- (2) Stop any abuse or hypocrisy. If your children experience any of these, then they won’t respond correctly. Ask yourselves: Are we mistreating our children in any way? Are we living lives contrary to what we are teaching our children?
- (3) Overcome your own sins. Are your children’s problems just a reflection of your own problems? Ask yourselves: Are they just copying what they see in us/me?
- (4) Point them to their need of the gospel—it is the only thing that can truly change their lives. Ask yourselves: Are we clearly and consistently teaching them the gospel?
- (5) Pray without ceasing. Parents should cast their cares upon God and ask for wisdom. Ask yourselves: Are we working hard at praying for our children?
1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Peter 5:7; James 1:5
A Parable Of Hope
- What if it is too late?—Meaning your child is already grown and is living a life in rebellion against God. The Bible gives us a glimpse at how the gospel can be applied to parenting through a parable about parenting that helps us to understand the gospel. It is the parable of the man with two sons. Both sons represent two types of rebellion against the father and the father represents how true love responds to such children. Read and apply.
Luke 15:1-3, 11
- The riotous child (self-indulgence)—this is the child who is characterized by living a wild and uncontrolled life when he is older. He brings the family shame. In the parable, this was the younger son. He sinned against his parents by: (1) Asking for his inheritance while his father was living—meaning he didn’t care for his father but just wanted his money. (2) He left home, moved far away and wasted his substance with riotous living—meaning he was reckless and wasteful in his morality (harlots) and finances. Results: Eventually, this type of lifestyle lead to him being in want—meaning that he became poor. He had nothing left. He had to get a job feeding pigs. He craved to eat what the pigs did, but nobody gave him any. Finally, he “came to his senses” and decided that the hired servants in his father’s house were treated better than the life he was living, so he decided to return to his father, confess his sins, and ask if he could just become one of the hired servants because he felt he wasn’t worthy to be called a son anymore.
- Parent’s Response: In the parable, the father didn’t approve of his son’s sinful lifestyle, but He allowed him to make his own decisions (he was of age), but when he “came to his senses” he was willing to love him. We can apply these same loving principles when dealing with riotous children: (1) Anticipating your child’s return—he never gave up on the child even though he was greatly dishonored by him. (2) Initiating your child’s reconciliation—he was ready and willing to accept his son as soon as he was ready to return. (3) Bearing your child’s shame—he humbly engage his son, endure shame and criticism to restore him. The father knew the towns people wouldn’t accept the riotous child back without much criticism, abuse, shame, etc., for his sinful lifestyle. Therefore, the father ran (which was a shameful thing for him to do in their day) to protect his riotous son from them and embraced him in the most loving manner (even though the son was most likely in a very repulsive state) without first requiring acts of repentance to prove his sincerity or to earn mercy (like the religious leaders taught in their day). (4) Restoring your child’s reputation—he restored his child’s reputation by greatly honoring him and not shaming him at all even though the son had tarnished both of their reputations.
- The moderate child (self-righteous)—this is the child who is characterized by living a tolerable and controlled life when he is older. He brings the family social acceptance. In the parable, this was the elder son. But he also sinned against his parents by: (1) Being angry over his father’s restoration (dislikes grace but trust his own merit) of the riotous son and refusing to celebrate—meaning the son was proud about his own outward obedience to his father, but was missing the “weightier matters” of obedience in the heart. (2) Being obedient with the only motivation being that he will receive his inheritance after the father died—meaning he didn’t care for his father but just wanted his money. This was the same sin as the riotous son, but just lived out differently. Everything this son is now doing is insulting and dishonoring to the father.
Luke 15:25-30; Matthew 23:23-28
- Parent’s Response: In the parable, the father responds to the moderate son in the same way as the riotous son. He anticipates, initiates and is willing to bear and restore his son even though he has been greatly dishonored. The father affectionately appeals to his son, explains their relationship hasn’t changed and he doesn’t want it to change (he doesn’t want to loose him). He also explains that it was necessary and right to celebrate because of the riotous son’s restoration—thus he is also extending grace and mercy to the moderate son who has yet to come to his senses.
Luke 15:28, 31-32
- What is a summary of biblical parenting?
- What are five steps you can take if it isn’t working?
- What are the two types of sons in the parable? How are they different/similar?
- What was the father’s response to each of the sons?
- What steps do you need to take today?
What Is The Biblical Role Of A Mother?
The biblical role of a mother is to be the assistant parent that helps through biblical femininity—selfless service. A mother should submissively take up her God-given role and take on the responsibilities of family-loving, care-taking, home-making and disciple-producing.
Establishing Biblical Motherhood
- The mother is the assistant parent because the Bible establishes the authority structure within the home as patriarchal, thus the mother is to help under the leadership of the father. She is the one who is accountable for submitting to and assisting her husband in raising their children.
Ephesians 5:22-6:3; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:13-15
- Equality: Women are created equal with men in the sight of God. This means that the female gender is neither more or less important or valuable. They can equally serve, love and worship God. They are redeemed in the same way, and in Jesus Christ are one. But women have different roles and should hold the position of submission at home (and in the church) based on God’s original intent at creation (this doesn’t change over time or because of culture).
Genesis 1:27; 5:1-2; Galatians 3:27-28; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16
- Matriarchy: God did not create women to be the head of the home, but to serve in a position of submission under her husband. Thus, women should not be the rulers of their homes. They should assistant their husbands, the fathers, who are the head parents. This is the healthy and correct authority structure established by God.
- Femininity: Every woman is born female (physiological gender) but she has to learn what it means to be feminine (gender identity). True femininity is exemplified in the Bible and should be passed on from mother to daughter. Every woman needs to evaluate her life and see if she is living according to the Bible’s definition of femininity—selfless service. If your mother wasn’t present in your upbringing or didn’t give you an example of biblical femininity then you should seek council from female believers within your church to learn how to live in accordance to the preordained identity that God has designed for you. Every woman’s first step is a relationship with Jesus.
1 Peter 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:9-11
- The mother has the incredible privilege of childbearing. Originally it was Eve—the woman, who was deceived and overstepped the moral boundary that God had established, thus leading mankind into sin. Her reputation was tarnished. But now women have the ability to be delivered from this awful reputation through childbearing. This means that the mother has the unique privilege through motherhood (the relationship between a mother and her children) to lead her children away from sin if she continues in faith (trust in the gospel), charity (Christian love), holiness (sanctification) with sobriety (moderation, self-control).
1 Timothy 2:13-15
- What does this type of mother look like? She loves God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. She loves, serves, submits and takes care of her husband. She loves, teaches, cares for and bears children. She manages, guides and keeps her home. She is full of good works, good speech, prayer, hospitality and compassion. She is modest in appearance, demeanor and behavior. She is a teacher and mentor to the younger generation of women/wives/mothers.
Proverbs 31:25-26, 29-31
Putting Primary Responsibilities Into Focus
- Family-loving: Women should by characterized by love for their families as wives and mothers. This means that God expects women to faithfully love their husbands and children. This is a special wifely love that causes her to love, serve, submit and take care of her husband and a special motherly love that causes her to affectionately nurture and tenderly nourish her children. Everyone in the family benefits from the mother’s love and are blessed.
Titus 2:4; Proverbs 31:11-12, 23, 28
- Care-taking: Women should by characterized by rearing children for their families as caretakers. A woman marries, bears children and then in unity with her husband and under his guidance takes on the primary responsibility of looking after and caring for the children (thus allowing him to fulfill his roles).
1 Timothy 5:10, 14; Ephesians 6:2-4
- Home-making: Women should by characterized by joyfully guiding the house for their families as homemakers. This means that they are keepers at home—to diligently manage, care for and take on the everyday responsibilities within their homes. They work in unity with their husbands to provide, organize and give special attention to the finances, food, clothing and whatever other necessities that their families need.
1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5; Proverbs 31:13-21, 24, 27; Psalm 113:9
- Disciple-producing: Women should by characterized by a sincere faith that teaches their children the holy scriptures (even if the father isn’t a believer). This means they fear the Lord and desire to actively teach their children the way of wisdom. In everything, they desire to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior and live in such a way that the word of God be not blasphemed. Therefore, they are committed to the Word of God and see their families as ministries, their homes as the mission field and their children as potential disciples who they have the responsibility of diligently discipling in the things of the Lord.
2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-17; Acts 16:1; Proverbs 31:1, 30; 23:24-25; Titus 2:1, 2,10
Other Areas Of Motherhood
- Mothers should submit to God’s will for their role in the family. They must repent of their rebellion or arrogance and start focusing on their primary responsibilities. Each responsibility is equally important and needed. They shouldn’t choose one over the other.
- Mothers should properly respect their husbands and have a healthy marriage that reflects the gospel so that: (1) their husbands can function as the leaders they need in raising godly children; (2) their children have a stable environment full of grace and truth.
Ephesians 5:33; Proverbs 1:8; 6:20
- Mothers can be encouraged towards biblical femininity by their husbands. Husbands should love, nourish and cherish their wives and encourage and allow their wives to serve, especially in the areas of their primary responsibilities.
- Why is the mother the assistant parent?
- What opportunity do women have to be delivered from their awful reputation?
- Can you explain equality, matriarchy, and femininity in relation to motherhood?
- What are the four primary responsibilities of motherhood?
- What are some other areas of motherhood to consider?
What Is The Biblical Role Of A Father?
The biblical role of a father is to be the head parent that leads through biblical masculinity—selfless servant leadership. A father should courageously take up his God-given role and provided leadership, protection, provision and spiritual direction for his family.
Establishing Biblical Fatherhood
- The father is the head parent because the Bible establishes the authority structure within the home as patriarchal (the mother is to help under the leadership of the father). He is the one who is accountable for leading his family. Thus, in the Bible, most verses that deal with parenting refer to the father’s responsibility.
Ephesians 5:22-6:4; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 3:19
- Hierarchy: God has ordained three institutions within society—the family, the government and the church. He has set in order and gave rules for how they are to function. The family is the foundation for the other two institutions because it is the most basic and fundamental institution of society that everyone is a part of. Therefore, the health of the family affects the health of the government and the church. Many problems in today’s society stem from the problems within a dysfunctional family.
Genesis 1-4; Mathew 18; Romans 13
- Patriarchy: The head (under Jesus) of this fundamental institution (the family) is the father. Thus, dysfunctional families are often the result of a dysfunctional father. Fathers who don’t lead their families are not only causing their families to suffer, but also governments and churches. When biblical fatherhood and masculinity breakdown in society, so do many other parts of society. Therefore, fatherhood needs to be a position of honor and respect. Christian men need to wholeheartedly bear their responsibility as fathers under the headship and after the example of Jesus.
1 Samuel 8:1-9; Deuteronomy 6:5; 1 Timothy 3:5
- Masculinity: Every man is born male (physiological gender) but he has to learn what it means to be masculine (gender identity). True masculinity is exemplified in Jesus and should be passed on from father to son. Every man needs to evaluate his life and see if he is living according to the Bible’s definition of masculinity—selfless servant leadership. If your father wasn’t present in your upbringing or didn’t give you an example of biblical masculinity then you should seek council from male leadership within your church to learn how to live in accordance to the preordained identity that God has designed for you. Every man’s first step is a relationship with Jesus.
1 Kings 2:1-3; Titus 1:5-10; 2:2, 6-8; 1 Timothy 3:1-7
Putting Primary Responsibilities Into Focus
- Leadership: Men should take the initiative in providing leadership for their families as husbands and fathers. This means that God expects men to take the initiative in leading their families in all areas. They lead by example. They love and cherish their wives, and bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Jesus exemplified this by being a servant and initiating our salvation and sending the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Ephesians 5:25; 6:4; Matthew 20:26-28
- Protection: Men should take the initiative in providing security for their families as protectors. This means that they are responsible for their families’ physical and emotional security. They are willing to physically protect them at the cost of their own lives and they are constantly watching over the protection of their hearts so that they aren’t abused or hurt by the wrong things. Jesus exemplified this by giving up His life for us and holding us securely in his hands.
Nehemiah 4:13-14; John 10:28; 15:13; 17:12
- Provision: Men should take the initiative in providing the needs for their families as providers. This means that they take measures in preparation for providing nourishment for their families. They desire to be the primary workers so that they can provide lodging, food, clothes and whatever other necessities that their families need. Jesus exemplified this by providing out greatest need—salvation, but also in teaching us to trust God through prayer and first seeking His kingdom and righteousness.
1 Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 5:28-30; Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:11, 33; 7:7-11
- Spirituality: Men should take the initiative in providing spiritual direction for their families as men of God. This means that they personally (individually) and collectively (as a family) will serve the one true God. They have a personal relationship with God through Jesus and worship Him. They desire to lead family worship in the home but also to lead their families to the local church for corporate worship. This includes putting away anything that hinders or discourages the worship of God. Jesus exemplified this by obeying God’s will and showing us the right spiritual direction—He is the way, the truth and the life.
Joshua 24:15; Genesis 35:2-3; John 8:28-32; 14:6-7
Other Areas Of Fatherhood
- Fathers should submit to God’s will for their role in the family. They must repent of their irresponsibility or passiveness and start focusing on their primary responsibilities. Each responsibility is equally important and needed. They shouldn’t choose one over the other—for example: choosing to provided provision (the best financial life possible) at the expense of not providing leadership, protection and spiritual direction.
- Fathers should properly love their wives and have a healthy marriage that reflects the gospel so that: (1) their wives can function as the helper they need in raising godly children; (2) their children have a stable environment full of grace and truth.
Ephesians 5:33; Proverbs 1:8; 6:20
- Fathers can be encouraged towards biblical masculinity by their wives. Wives should submit and respect their husbands and encourage and allow their husbands to lead, especially in the areas of their primary responsibilities.
- Fathers are to be courageous. They are to bravely assume their roles as the leaders of their families. In the Bible this is what “quit you like men” meant—to not be deterred by danger or pain. Manliness is defined by courage. This courage is the strength to lead your family and not be deterred by a hostile culture that deems men as lazy or incompetent. Fathers are to courageously lead their families because they are convinced, convicted and assured that God has called them for such a purpose as this.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14; Deuteronomy 31:6; 1 Kings 2:2; 2 Samuel 10:12; Joshua 1:6-9
- Why is the father the head parent?
- Can you explain hierarchy, patriarchy and masculinity in relation to fatherhood?
- What are the four primary responsibilities of fatherhood?
- What are some other areas of fatherhood to consider?
- What does the Bible mean when it says, “Quit you like men?” Are you?
How Do I Create A Household Of Grace?
A household of grace is where free and unmerited favor permeates the climate, environment, conditions, atmosphere, mood, attitudes and speech of a family. As a Christian parent you are called to be a minster of grace in the same way God extended grace to you through Jesus, so that your children can thrive.
Establishing An Environment of Grace
- Grace is free and unmerited favor. It is unmerited and free for the receiver but it is costly for the giver. As believers, we have experienced this in salvation. We didn’t do anything to deserve our sins to be forgiven but it was freely offered to us. It could be freely offered to us because Jesus paid the price for our sins. This favor means doing more good things for others than they deserve and greater than they imagine. In Christ, God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. He speaks well of us and no evil. He has given us the benefit of a new life empowered by the Holy Spirit to live for Him.
Ephesians 1:3; 2:5-8; 4:7; Romans 3:10-12; 4:16; 11:6; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Timothy 1:9-10
- Therefore, a household of grace is one where free and unmerited favor permeates the family in every area of life. Parents set moral boundaries (what is right and wrong) that are rooted in the grace of the gospel and teach their children to live according to it. This means hating evil and loving good motivated by Jesus’ humble sacrifice on the cross and the expectation of His glorious return. The heart is the aim because saving faith is the only way they can be justified. This often results in children with a heart of faith and repentance because they see their need of the gospel of grace. If we establish this kind of household, then we can guard against the following ways of legalism or abuse:
Titus 2:11-15; Romans 3:10-31
- A household of judgment—is one where criticism and hypocrisy permeates the family in every area of life. Parents set moral boundaries that are rooted in God’s law but parents teach their children to use it as a means to judge others even though they themselves fail to live up to its standard. This means judging those who do evil things but they themselves do evil things. The heart isn’t the aim because judging others becomes the way they justify themselves. This often results in children with hard and unrepentant hearts who don’t see their need of the gospel of grace.
- A household of authoritarianism—is one where obedience and self-righteousness permeates the family in every area of life. Parents set moral boundaries that are rooted in God’s law, but they also make their own rules and regulations that become equal to God’s. This means working hard to please God, but they themselves are never able to accomplish it. The heart isn’t the aim because outward conformity becomes the way they justify themselves. This often results in children with rebellious and unrepentant hearts who don’t see their need of the gospel of grace.
- A household of permissiveness—is one where appeasement and indifference permeates the family in every area of life. Parents set moral boundaries that are rooted in God’s grace, but they accept or allow sin. This means knowing they aren’t under the law, but they themselves choose to continue in sin. The heart isn’t the aim because the lack of conviction (guilt and shame) excuses the necessity for justification. This often results in children with resentful, carnal and unrepentant hearts who don’t see their need of the gospel of grace.
Putting An Environment of Grace Into Focus
- Grace in the home creates a place where affection, appreciation, acceptance and assurance reign. This kind of environment allows your children to thrive.
- Affection: Grace says, “You are loved.” Your home should be a place where your children know that you are willing to love them in the same way that God does: sacrificially—you are committed to their good no matter the cost; securely—you give them all your love and they don’t have to earn it, nor can they loose it; perfectly—you are not selfish, but work towards their best interest; relationally—you spend time with your children, both in quality and in quantity, to nourish and cherish them.
John 15:13; Romans 5:8; 8:35-39; 1 John 4: 9-10; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Ephesians 5:22-33
- Appreciation: Grace says, “You are important.” Your home should be a place where your children know that they were created for an important purpose and that God works in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure. God has a plan for their lives. They can accomplish great things. It starts with teaching them how their lives fit into the will of God that is revealed to them in the Bible—allowing His desires to become theirs and giving them the freedom to live out their God-given purpose.
Psalm 37:4-5; Romans 8:28; Philippians 2:12-13; James 1:5-7; Proverbs 3:5-6
- Acceptance: Grace says, “You are accepted.” Your home should be a place where your children know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Parents allow their children to be different from them and each other by accepting their differences: predetermined characteristics (gender, body structure, etc.) and relative characteristics (talents, personalities, temperaments, etc.). But they also teach them how to bring all their characteristics into submission with Christ for His glory.
Psalm 139:13-18; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
- Assurance: Grace says, “You are assured.” Your home should be a place where your children know that they can have confidence in the sovereignty of God as they go through life’s changing circumstances. As the family processes the struggles and hardships of life they are taught to rely on the sufficiently of God’s grace—knowing and confidently expecting that He can work good out of it. There is a lively hope in God.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 1:6; 12-14; 29-30; 2:4-16; 2 Timothy 3:12; Philippians; Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20; Hebrews 2:10; 4:14-16; 11:1-40
- Grace in the home creates a place full of grace and truth. Grace doesn’t compromise the truth. Truth doesn’t compromise grace. They support each other. Jesus it the perfect example of how these two co-exists. Grace can only be given after justice is satisfied. Grace and truth work together to renounce ungodly living and to embrace godly living. Therefore, neutrals are dealt with in a way that doesn’t confuse or hinder the truth. You don’t condemn certain things or actions (calling it “worldly”) just because you don’t like or understand it. You have to look at the attitudes and how it is being used in your children’s life. Grace is extended to allow your children the freedom to be different and creative. Mistakes are allowed to be made. Forgiveness is easily accessible. Questions, cares, concerns and doubts are all welcomed. Truth is taught and firmly stood upon.
John 1:14; 1 John 2:15-17; Titus 2:11-12; Colossians 4:6
- What is grace?
- What is a household of grace?
- What are the three households of legalism or abuse?
- What four things does grace in the home create?
- How does grace and truth work together?
How Do I Organize Family Worship?
Family worship is the practical and formal application of training and instructing your children in the Lord. It is when a family meets together to worship God. It serves to orient the hearts of the family towards God on a regular basis and is a testimony to the children in the family of all that God has done and that He is worthy of our worship. This is accomplished through reading the Bible together, praying together and singing biblical songs together.
Establishing The Foundation Of Family Worship
- One of the primary functions of a Christian family is to pass on the worship of God within the family so that it continues to the next generation and generations to come. Worship is our adoration and devotion to God and is a testimony to our love to Him for all that He has done for us. Parents, especially fathers, are responsible to lead their family to worship God by making the truths about God and His word known to their children. This includes active participation in a local church, but even more so it includes the regular meeting together of the family unit for worship and devotion in their homes.
- The goal of family worship is to orient the families hearts towards God on a regular basis. Parents conduct family worship within the home so that their children might set their hope in God, not forget the works of God and to keep His commandments. This helps parents to avoid raising children who are: stubborn, rebellious, don’t set their heart aright and whose spirit is not faithful to God.
- The Old Testament gives up many examples that allude to families who worshipped God within their homes: (1) Abraham was commended by God because He knew he would command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord. (2) Moses commanded Israel to love God and then to diligently teach their children to do the same. (3) Joshua charged the people of Israel to serve the Lord and not to serve false gods and despite what everyone else chose, he decided that he and his family would serve the Lord. (4) Job’s sons would hold feasts in their houses and at the end of the feast Job would offer burnt offerings for them. He did this continually.
Genesis 18:17-19; Deuteronomy 6: 4-7; Joshua 24:14-16; Job 1:4-5
- The core tenets of the New Testament underscore the importance of family worship because worship and evangelism is central to our Christian responsibilities.
Ephesians 6:4; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; Matthew 28:18-20
Putting Practical Steps Into Focus
- Choose a time—When we worship in any form we are letting others know what we really love. Therefore, it only seems reasonable that we would often and regularly meet together as a family for worship. Family worship should be commonplace in our families. God is worthy of our worship. Family worship provides one of the ways that we can worship Him and pass on the faith to our children. Thus, the father ought to take the lead (if the father isn’t a believer or is not present in the family then the responsibility falls to the mother) and choose a time each day that is possible (daily is best) to have a regular formal time of family worship. The time can be in the morning, evening or both. Keep it brief—not drawn out. Make it joyous—not grievous. Be flexible—but not inconsistent. Be together—not separate.
- Choose the activities—The father doesn’t have to be an expert in the Bible to lead his family in worship. There are three main activities that fulfill the purpose of family worship and any believer can lead his family using the following three activities: reading the Bible, praying and singing biblical songs.
- Read the Bible together: The Bible is the basis of all Christian beliefs. The Bible is truth and as such reveals God’s will to us. The three ways it instructs us are: understanding who God is, how to know Him, and how to live for Him. Therefore, we should give attention to reading the Bible with our families. You can choose the amount to read based on your children’s ages. As you read it make sure to explain any difficult words and give a basic explanation and application of the text that you read together.
- Pray together: Prayer is when a believer speaks to God. This includes: asking, supplication, thanksgivings, praise, confession and intercessions. Believers know that God can hear them and that He will respond according to His will. Believers should be constantly praying and paying attention to what is going on so that they can make their requests known to God and thank Him for when He answers prayer. Therefore, we should give attention to praying with our families. After you read the Bible, you can ask for pray requests or praises from your family and also use the Bible truth learned from the passage read that day as a prayer request or praise.
- Sing biblical songs together: Singing is a powerful tool that allows us to teach truth and reinforce doctrine through the lyrics of the songs. The instrumental accompaniment taps into our emotions. Together they enable one way for us to worship God. Therefore, we should give attention to singing together as a family. Choose a few songs (maybe those you sing at church) and sing them together.
Other Areas Of Family Worship
- Choose to disciple—As a Christian parent, you should be a disciple of Jesus who is committed to discipling others. This means you are growing in your knowledge of the Word of God and in your relationship with Jesus. Then you are taking all that you have learned and teach it to others. This should include your children. They need to be discipled in the gospel, theology, doctrine, missions, Christian disciplines, principles and worldview. You can use other books to read together, memorize scripture or other activities to help achieve learning in these areas, as well as, leading by example.
- Choose a church—As a Christian parent, you should bring your children to church so they will be around other believers and be influenced by learning, worshipping and growing in the Word of God together. They should worship with the family at church. (If they don’t understand it is the father’s responsibility to explain it to them at home.) It instills the habits of learning how to sit through a sermon and how to take part in the work of God through evangelism and serving others. Finally, being present when believers take the Lord’s supper and new converts are baptized reminds them of their need for Jesus.
- What is one of the primary functions of a Christian family?
- How does family worship accomplish this function?
- What are some Old Testament examples of family worship?
- What are the three activities of family worship time?
- What are some other areas of family worship to be considered?
How Do I Train My Children In The Lord?
Training your children in the Lord means to be intentional and habitual about instructing your children in the Christian way. We do this by living out the Christian way ourselves and by organizing the way we live out the Bible and the gospel.
Establishing The Meaning Of Training
- Parents have the responsibility to train up their children in the way they should go. “Train up” means to give direction or order to children in such a way that it forms them with a lasting and profound influence in their development. There are only two ways our children can go: the way of submission to God or the way of rebellion against God. This training instructs the children “in the way they should go” meaning the way in submission to God. This type of training prepares your children to not depart from the right way when they reach older stages of life where they start to make decisions on their own.
Proverbs 1:5; 10; 22:6; Colossians 2:8
- Training includes the Biblical method of the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction) but goes beyond it to include habitual instruction that forms children to know what it means to love God with all their hearts, souls and might. We are not to limit training just to times of reproof (instruction), but we are to always be teaching our children about the Lord and how to obey Him. The Bible is our training manual and as we learn its truths and model living out its truths with our lives, we can instruct our children in the same way. Children need to know how to live according to God’s word. This means that our training will include: (1) formal times of teaching—you schedule a time to sit down with your children and teach them the Bible; (2) informal times of teaching—you are teaching them as you are doing life together and as opportunities arise; (3) scripture memorization—you encourage and help your children to memorize the Bible; (4) scripture application—apply the scriptural truths to their life in a way they can understand it and help them develop habits that apply the truth of scripture and avoid sinful habits; (5) scriptural answers—we answer their questions with Bible truth.
Deuteronomy 6:7-9; 32:46-47; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-5; Psalm 119:9-16
- Training is passing on the Biblical worldview and culture from one generation to the next. It means that it will permeate all areas of our lives. This means we don’t allow the worldly culture around us to mold our children, but that we are actively molding them in the Christian way so that they will learn to fear, glorify and enjoy God forever through the gospel of Jesus.
Psalm 78:1-8; 145:4
- Training always involves the heart and aims for them to do right from the heart. Therefore, effective training is not the following because they don’t address the issues of the heart or teach the way of righteousness: (1) Sheltering or protecting your children from worldly influences. This only suppresses your children from acting wrongly because they have less opportunities or a more suitable environment. (2) Conditioning or simply teaching your children the association between a stimulus and a response. This only modifies your children’s behavior through positive or negative reinforcement. (Although this may be used with younger children, for example, to learn not to touch something, but remember even though the behavior was changed they heart was not.) (3) Outsourcing or placing the responsibility of training on your church (children or youth ministries), educational preference (Christian school, homeschool, etc.) or other Christian programs. This often only negates the importance of the Christian way because the parents are not practicing what they preach and their children won’t take it to heart because the parents didn’t.
Putting The Gospel Into Focus
- The heart of training is the gospel. Christian parents have the amazing blessing and the significant responsibility to be the means that God uses to reach their children with the gospel message. God in His sovereignty works in the lives of their children unto salvation, but He often uses their parents to be the witness of the gospel through their words and actions. Children will never learn to completely do right until God saves them and transforms their heart through being “born again,” thus all of our training and methods must be saturated with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The new birth brings about a heart truly oriented towards God with new desires and power to overcome the world.
John 3:3-5; 1 John 3:9; 4:4; 5:4
- Training with the gospel at the center means believing your children are sinners from birth and you never presume that your children are believers (they aren’t guaranteed salvation, nor do they automatically become believers because they were born in a Christian family). Until your children have repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus for salvation they aren’t believers. If your children have made “salvation decisions,” but have not produced any fruit of their new life in Christ then you shouldn’t assume they are believers until fruit bears evidence of their conversion. Always apply the gospel.
Psalm 51:5; 58:3; John 15:1-2
- The gospel is the following: You are a sinner by nature and by sinful actions. Your sin has separated you from the Holy God and made you His enemy. The punishment for your sin is death and eternal separation from Him. But He loved you. Therefore, He made a way for your sin to be forgiven. He sent Jesus into the world. He was perfectly good and sinless. He didn’t have to die, but He loved you so much that He willingly died on the cross to pay the price for your sin. Three days later He arose from the dead so you could be justified. God did all of this by grace. You didn’t earned it but it was freely given to you with the only condition of accepting it. From a repentant heart, you confess to God, placing your trust in Jesus, depending exclusively in Him for salvation, and nothing else.
Romans 3:12-23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-10; John 3:16, 36; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-9
Other Areas Of Training Priority
- Parents should teach their children to fear God—to have a profound respect for God as the ultimate authority and a terror of God because His holiness demands consequences for their sin. They should learn to respond with humble submission to Him.
Psalm 25:12-15; 86:11; 103:17; 112:1-2; 128:1-4; 130:4; Proverbs 9:10; 10:27; 14:27; 22:4; 24:3; Hebrews 10:26-31
- Parents should teach their children they will reap what they sow. God won’t be mocked. Consequences are a result of their decisions and it highlights the truthfulness of God’s word because it warns against sin but promotes the Christian way. It has lasting effects in all areas of their lives including their: salvation, relationships, habits, reputation, etc.
Galatians 6:7-8; Proverbs 5:21; 11:18
- Parents should know their marriage relationship is one of the greatest examples to teach their children because it reflects the gospel and it testifies to the correlation of what they say and do. Marriage can either lead their children towards God or away from God.
- What is the parents responsibility to raise up their children?
- What does training beyond the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction) mean?
- Training always aims for the what?
- How do we use the gospel in training?
- What are some other areas of priority in training children in the Lord?
What Are Responsible Attitudes Of Parenting?
Responsible attitudes of parenting is the Christian manner in which we think and feel about our responsibility as parents to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Parents have to establish the correct attitudes and extinguish the wrong ones. This is important because their children will be effected by and learn their temperaments.
Establishing The Correct Attitudes
- Establish an attitude of authority and influence. From conception the mother has complete control over her child and practically does everything for him/her while he/she is in the womb (eating, drinking, breathing, etc.). When the child is born, the control moves to both parents who practically make all the decisions for the child because they can physically enforce obedience. The child is dependent. It is during this time that the parents use their authority to control and mold their child. As the child grows, the parents’ ability to enforce their authority over the child gradually decreases. Therefore, parents can only influence their child’s behavior and not enforce it. This is a natural occurrence because they are raising the child to be independent and leave the family to start his/her own family. Parents have a responsibility to properly use their authority when the child is young and properly use their influence over the child when he/she is old.
Deuteronomy 11:19; Hebrews 13:17
- Establish an attitude of training and righteousness. Developing your children’s behavior by instruction and practice should be the way the parents think and feel about parenting. Training starts when the children are infants and continues until they leave the house. Parents should use the Bible to train them in righteousness. Parents have a responsibility to know biblical truth and to be actively and intentionally training their children, choosing not to be ignorant, indifferent, inattentive or inactive
Proverbs 22:6; 2 Timothy 3:16
- Establish an attitude of humility and service. Parents should first examine their own lives taking the “log” out of their own eyes so they can see clearly to take the “speck” out of their children’s eyes. Parents are not to be selfish and focused just on their own things and interests but they are to consider their children better than themselves and equally focus on their things and interests. Parents have a responsibility to have the same attitude of humility and service towards their children that Jesus had towards them.
Matthew 7:1-5; Philippians 2:3-11
- Establish an attitude of love and restoration. Everything parents do should be done with an attitude of a passionate devotion for their children’s good and to correct their children when they do wrong so that they can be restored back to the way of righteousness and once again be oriented towards God. Parents have a responsibility to lovingly use the biblical method of the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction) so that their children will have a restored relationship with them and point them to their need of a restored relationship with God through Jesus.
Galatians 6:1; Proverbs 3:12
Extinguishing The Wrong Attitudes
- Extinguish attitudes of sinful anger. Parents are notorious for getting angry at their children. Anger is that strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, irritation or unfriendliness that parents get when their children aren’t behaving in a manner acceptable to them. Parents who don’t have the right method of parenting often allow this strong feeling to build up to an epic scale and then they explode. Not all anger is sin, it is often a natural response to many things, but parents can never be consumed by anger or allow it to build up inside of them. When they do they give an opportunity to the devil to tempt them to sin by allowing their anger to control the way they choose to discipline or instruct their children in that moment. Angry parents use the wrong methods (screaming, yelling, criticism, nagging, hitting or tantrum spanking) to discipline their children and it is ineffective. Although it might correct their children’s behavior (the outward actions) in that moment, it doesn’t correct their children’s heart (inward attitudes). The righteousness of God is only produced through the means that God has provided. Parents have a responsibility to not be quick-tempered or allow anger build up, but instead they are to be self-controlled and use God’s methods to focus on heart change in their children. Below are a few ways to help extinguish this sinful attitude of anger:
James 1:20; Ephesians 4:26-27
- Every parent should understand how to wisely communicate with their children: (1) swift to hear—parents need to pay attention and listen to their children, not being so busy that they are ignored or their concerns aren’t given any consideration; (2) slow to speak—parents are to carefully pay attention to and control the speech they use with their children; (3) slow to wrath—parents are to control their emotion of anger and not be impatient, hot-tempered or temperamental.
James 1:19; Proverbs 10:19; 11:12-13; 13:3; 15:1; 17:27-28
- When your children sin, disobey or rebel then you should immediately use the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction) together for correction. You should not see the rod (discipline) as the last resort to correct your children, but you should see it as the first resort to remove the foolishness from their hearts. If the biblical method is immediately applied when necessary, then there should be no time for the parent to build up anger through the use of screaming, yelling, criticism, nagging, repeated commands, etc.
- If you are too angry to make the right decisions in the moment, then have your spouse intervene or take time to pray and overcome your anger so that you can properly apply the biblical method and not sin against your children.
- Extinguish attitudes of provocation. Parents, especially fathers, should not provoke their children to wrath or discourage them. Provoking children means that parents negatively challenge them to the point of intense irritation and annoyance and can lead to being disheartened—losing spirit and they no longer want to obey their parents or please God. Parents have the responsibility to not be overbearing, harsh, inconsiderate, insensitive, abusive, threatening, scolding or anything to deliberately provoke their children.
Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21
- Extinguish attitudes of hate. Parents who have been taught the biblical method (the rod—discipline and reproof—instruction) but don’t to use it because of selfishness, laziness, carelessness or dislike are all expressing attitudes of hate towards their children. Parents have a responsibility to do the hard, uncomfortable but loving work to raise their children God’s way.
James 4:17; Proverbs 13:24; 29:15
- Why are responsible attitudes of parenting important?
- What are correct attitudes that we need to establish?
- What are wrong attitudes that we need to extinguish?
- What are some practical ways to extinguish the sinful attitude of anger?
- What attitude do you need to work on the most?
What Is The Biblical Method Of Parenting?
The biblical method of parenting that God has given parents to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is to use the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction). By faith, parents faithfully apply these methods as God works in the hearts of their children.
Establishing The Right Method
- The Right Method: The purpose of parenting is accomplished when parents exercise their authority through “The Biblical Method.” This method has two main parts: the rod (nurture, discipline) and reproof (admonition, instruction). Each part has to be used in conjunction with each other or it is ineffective. Both of these methods address the heart and the heart addresses behavior. Both impart wisdom to the children. If your children are neglected or not cared for according to this method then it can lead to a family full of shame (distress caused by your children’s behavior), but if this method is used accordingly it can lead to a family full of peace and delight (calm and joy caused by your children’s behavior).
Proverbs 29:15, 17; Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:5
- The Wrong Methods: If “The Biblical Method” is the right method for parenting a child and ordained by God then all others methods are wrong or misguided. This is because they are artificial ways to gain obedience through only addressing behavioral change and not heart change. They are dangerous because they can lead to developing unrighteous actions or attitudes within your children. The following methods need to be cast off and our parenting needs to come in alignment with the Bible’s method: (1) The Positive Method—parents bribe their children or make an agreement to give them a reward if they obey their orders or the children earn rewards for good behavior. (2) The Emotional Method—parents appeal to the emotions of their children through fear, threats, shame, hurt feelings or isolation to coerce obedience. (3) The Negative Method—parents use some kind of negative punishment like yelling, hitting or grounding to control their children or punish for bad behavior. (4) The Mixed Method—parents mix all the methods together, willing to try anything, hoping that something works, but never stick with any one method.
Putting The Rod (Discipline) Into Focus
- The rod represents “physical discipline.” Application: Parents are to use an instrument like a small thin branch and apply it to their children’s body to cause a controlled and reasonable amount of physical pain without harming the child in any manner. Reason: Parents are to apply the rod (discipline) only for sin, disobedience or rebellion and not for childish behavior, accidents or out of anger or frustration. Effectiveness: Parents should only apply the rod (discipline) privately, mainly in the home, not in an embarrassing manner and it must be applied consistently in its application and reason to be effective in their hearts.
- The rod (discipline) should never be used to cause children physical harm. Anything that goes past a controlled and reasonable amount of physical pain is no longer considered “discipline” but it is “abuse.” Parents have no right to physically abuse their children no matter the intention.
- The rod means an object is used to discipline—not the parents’ hands. It prevents slapping out of instant irritation and gives you time to have the right mindset when you have to go get the rod. Parents’ hands shouldn’t be a sign of judgment—scaring the children when they reach for them but a sign of acceptance. The exception would be if the child was doing something dangerous and needed the immediate discipline.
- Parents use the rod (discipline) to remove the “foolishness” from their children’s hearts and not necessarily as a consequence for wrong behavior. Foolishness is not childishness, but it is the trait of acting in an ungodly and unwise manner because there is no fear of God. Proverbs teaches extensively on the characteristics of a foolish person and none of them are desirable. Foolish children despise their parents and cause them great sadness.
Proverbs 22:15; 1:7; 10:1; 15:5; 17:25; 19:13
- Parents use the rod (discipline) as a means of loving their children. Because the rod (discipline) has been ordained by God to remove the foolish from children’s hearts parental love compels parents to diligently apply the rod (discipline) when necessary. To withhold the use of the rod (discipline) would be a hateful action because they are refusing to give them the discipline they need and allowing them to continue in their rebellion unchecked. Only selfish parents would choose not to use the rod (discipline) because it is uncomfortable for them to apply its use. Children will survive and not be harmed by the biblical use of the rod (discipline).
Proverbs 13:24; 23:13-14; Hebrews 12:6-8
- Parents use the rod (discipline) by faith knowing that God has chosen it as a means to properly raise their children. The rod (discipline) is grievous in the moment, it is not a joyous activity for the one applying it or for the children receiving it—no kind of physical pain or discomfort is, but it will eventually yield fruit that is peaceable and righteous.
Putting Reproof (Instruction) Into Focus
- Reproof represents “wise communication.” Application: Parents are to use the Bible to admonish their children about what they have done wrong to warrant the use of the rod and instruct them how to do right next time. Reason: Parents are to reprove (instruct) their children for sin, disobedience or rebellion. Effectiveness: Parents should reprove (instruct) their children before using the rod so the children know the reason for it and don’t misunderstand. They should also reaffirm this after using the rod and make sure there is complete restoration. Reproof (instruction) has to be communicated in a loving, calm and consistent manner to be effective in their hearts.
- Parents should use Bible and gospel terminology when reproving (instructing) their children. Parents are to direct their children’s hearts to God and how bad behavior relates to their relationship with Him. Using Bible terminology helps discern the thoughts and intents of the heart and leads the children to understand the problem and how to make it right.
Proverbs 6:23; Hebrews 4:12
- Parents should carefully reprove (instruct) their children. Much damage can be done if they are quick to answer and pour out evil things against their children (scolding), which makes the whole discipline process ineffective. Instead, parents should study or mediate on the content of the reproof (instruction) but also the manner and tone in which it is delivered.
Proverbs 15:1-2, 28; James 1:19-20
- What is the biblical method of parenting?
- What is the use of the rod (discipline)?
- What are some characteristics of the rod (discipline)?
- What is the use reproof (instruction)?
- What are some characteristics of reproof (instruction)?
What Is The Biblical Authority Of Parenting?
The biblical authority of parenting is power that God has given to parents over their children to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Children are to obey their parents with the motivation that they are obeying Jesus through this authority structure. Parents obey God by exercising their authority over their children, and when children obey their parents authority, they can partake of two promises: blessings and long life.
Establishing Parental Authority
- Authority: God has made the parents the active authority over their children. Thus the authority structure in the home is as follows: Jesus has authority over the husband. The husband has authority over the wife. The husband lovingly leads his wife and she respectfully submits to him. Together they have authority over their children to raise them.
Ephesians 5:22-6:4; 1 Corinthians 11:3
- Responsibility: The purpose of parental authority is to: (1) “bring them up”—meaning it is the parents’ responsibility to look after and care for their children until they are adults; (2) “in the nurture of the Lord”—to train and educate their children through using discipline (the rod) to remove the foolishness from their hearts and cultivate what pleases God; (3) “admonition of the Lord”—to caution, advise and instruct (reproof) their children about all the ways of life as is relates to the will of God.
Putting Parental Authority Into Focus
- Parental authority is God given—meaning that parents can have confidence that this is the right way to raise their children (you don’t have to follow other methods). It also means that they have a duty to accept and act out this authority—otherwise they are living in disobedience to God. Every parent, despite their personality type, perceived inability to be firm or uncomfortable feelings of being in a position of authority over their children, has a decision to make, a command to obey and a promise to help their children receive. Both parents are accountable to act in accordance to God’s will for how they parent their children.
- Parental authority is “being in charge”—meaning that parents are the boss and the decision makers for their children. They are not just advisers, care-providers or servants for their children. Children learn through the authority structure that God has established. The absence of authority in the home leads to disorder (children do as they please), but the presence of authority in the home leads to order (children obeying authority).
- Parental authority is modeling the right way—meaning that parents are to be the example to their children of what it means to make wise decisions and live a life that is pleasing to God. Children are to learn by the parent’s example not through experience or experiment by making all their own decisions. This means that parenting is first about the parents spiritual growth. They need to be doing all the following so they can teach their children to as well: have a growing relationship with Jesus; repent of and overcome their sins; obey God and make wise decisions; love and serve Jesus; live the victorious Christian life.
Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 7:1-5
- Parental authority should be a consistent way of life—meaning that parental responsibility should be diligently carried out. Whenever the parent is with their children (sitting, walking, lying down, rising up) they are to be purposely and conscientiously teaching them to know, fear, love and obey God. This takes sacrificing time and energy. It also has to be regularly carried out to be effective—it is a continual teaching process.
Responding To Parental Authority
Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20
- Children are to respond to their parent’s authority with obedience and honor until they are old and leave to start their own family, but they only learn to do this when their parents teach them to do so. Therefore, parents need to understand what they are to teach:
- Obedience: Children should be taught that the standard for children to obey their parents is the same standard for obedience to God because through obeying their parents they are learning how to obey God. Thus obedience is children complying to the orders of their parents in the following manner: (1) Completely—children are to obey all the way not just partially or what they think is best. (2) Immediately—children are to obey right away and without delay. Parents shouldn’t have to repeat themselves or raise their voice for the children to obey. (3) Undisputedly—children are to obey without challenging the order, calling it into question or why it isn’t fair. They are to obey without disputing or grumbling. The order is not up for debate it is to be obeyed. (4) Unanimously—children are to obey without excuse or objection as to why they can’t obey. (5) Joyfully—children are to obey with a happy heart, choosing to be content in their obedience because it pleases God and their parents.
- Honor: Children should be taught that honoring parents means showing that their parents authority is highly valued by using their words, actions and attitude to be respectful and undemanding. They attentively and reverently listen to their parents instruction and don’t mock or despise them.
Proverbs 1:8; 13:1; 30:17
- Motivation: Children should be taught to obey and honor their parents with the following motivation: “in the Lord”—meaning that through God’s authority structure when they obey their parents they are obeying Jesus and when they disobey they are disobeying Jesus. They should obey Jesus because it is the right thing to do. He is their ultimate authority and we want to orient them to learn to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus.
- For children who obey and honor their parents—meaning they are properly submitting to their parents’ authority in action and attitude—there is a two-fold promise from God: (1) “it may be well with thee”—meaning that the children will experience blessings from God; (2) “thou mayest live long on the earth”—meaning they will have a long life on this earth. Therefore, the safest place for children to be is under the authority of their parents and not rebelling against it. If they rebel against their parents authority then they are no longer in a position to partake of this blessing and need to be restored. Restoration takes place through the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction).
Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16
Focusing On These Truths
- What is the authority structure in the home?
- What is the responsibility or purpose of parental authority?
- What are some of the characteristics of parental authority?
- How are children to respond to parental authority?
- What is the promise for children who obey and honor their parents?
What Is The Biblical Purpose Of Parenting?
The Biblical purpose of parenting is to shepherd your children’s hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel. The purpose of every person’s life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus. But we enter this world with a rebel’s heart that is oriented towards ourselves and foolishness. Thus parents are to be used as God’s agents to care for and guide their children’s hearts so that it finds the right way in a sinful world.
Establishing A Biblical Purpose
- The Reason Children Exist: God created us to share with us the joy of His glory. But we sinned against Him and were separated from Him—meaning we could not longer glorify or take joy in Him. However, God decided to show us grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He called all of us to repent and believe in Jesus, thus restoring our ability to glorify Him and experience the true joy that is in Him. Therefore, all children also exist for this same reason: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus.
Psalm 16:11; Isaiah 59:2; 2 Peter 3:9
- The Purpose of Parenting: For children to fulfill the reason for their existence starts with their hearts. The heart represents the “inner person” or the real orientation, belief, motivation and attitude of a person. It is from the heart that we think, feel and make decisions. It is the source from which everything we do in life is issued from. The problem is that a child’s heart is born sinful—meaning it is not neutral but deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked or incurable on its own and if left untouched will lead to destruction. Each child is born a sinner in rebellion against God. Parents are God’s instruments to give hope to the child—pointing the child to Jesus. Therefore, the biblical purpose of parenting is: to care for and guide your children’s hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel so that they can fulfill their reason for existence.
Proverbs 4:23; 13:20; 22:6; Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 58:3; 51:5
Putting Biblical Parenting Into Focus
- Parenting is about correcting your children’s hearts (inward attitudes) and not about correcting your children’s behavior (the outward actions). All wrong behavior is a heart problem, therefore to focus on changing the wrong behavior without changing the heart is only temporarily covering up the problem—keeping your children’s hearts far from God and leads towards condemnation. An outward change doesn’t cause an inward change, but an inward change does cause an outward change. Thus, parenting focuses on addressing and changing the problem in the heart of your children that caused the wrong behavior and not just on addressing and changing the action itself.
Mark 7:20-23; Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:8-9
- Parenting is about training your children in the way they should go and not letting them follow their own way. Children are born into a world with many “ways” but there is only one “right way” and you are to train your children in that way. If parents start training their children when they are young then they will build lifelong habits—meaning that when they are old they most likely won’t depart from it. The right way that parents are to train up their children in is the way of God through the teachings of the Bible. The Bible is every parents training manual for how to teach their children how to function in this world. Children should be taught the Bible so that it can: (1) make them wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus; (2) make them learn doctrine; (3) give them the needed reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; (4) make them equipped to do good works.
Proverbs 22:6; 2 Timothy 3:15-17
- Parenting is about disciplining and instructing your children so their hearts can receive wisdom and not just a method to punish wrong behavior. Children don’t need to be taught to do wrong because foolishness is tied to their hearts. This foolishness is untied and removed from the child through discipline and replaced by wisdom through instruction. This wisdom starts with teaching your children to fear the Lord. Wise children learn to respond positively to rebuke, instruction and teaching. They will treat those who correct them with love. But children who aren’t taught to fear the Lord become scorners. They learn to respond negatively to reprove and rebuke. They will treat those who correct them with hate, shame and insult. Thus, parenting focuses on imparting wisdom through discipline and instruction.
Proverbs 9:7-10; 22:15; 29:15; Ephesians 6:4
- Parenting is about holding your children accountable to the highest standard of God’s law and Christian attitudes and then pointing them to Jesus when they fail and not about excusing their sins as childish behavior. Parents are to diligently teach their children to know, fear, love and obey God from the heart, but children will discover that it is an impossible task to accomplish on their own thus pointing them to their need of the grace of God offered through Jesus. If parents excuse their children’s sins by not showing their children the offense is ultimately against God and has a consequence, then they are leading them away from the cross and not towards it.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18-21; Galatians 3:24
Committing To Biblical Parenting
- Believers should commit by faith to faithfully carry out the biblical purpose of parenting. As believers, our lives have been radically changed by Jesus and we are to live according to His ways—including the way we parent our children. There are many “philosophies” about parenting that are handed down by human tradition (by your parents or culture) and corrupt influences of this world (based on worldly principles) that go against the teachings of the Bible. Therefore, we need to beware of these wrong philosophies and be committed to parenting according to the teachings of the Bible—even if it goes against out tradition, culture or family.
- Believers should not commit to any other purpose for raising their children. As believers, we need to make sure that our focus isn’t blurred by focusing on worldly goals. This means that if any of the following are setup as the ultimate purpose of our parenting it will change the focus and the outcome of our parenting: having your children work hard to develop certain abilities and skills (musical, athletic, artistic); pressure your children to study and get a good education often to earn a good salary; raising well mannered or behaved children; raising children with good self-esteem who try their best; etc. These things are not wrong in themselves, but they are unqualified to be the “all that matters” purpose of our parenting and they should only be pursued in reference to the ultimate purpose—to glorify and enjoy God.
- What is the reason children exist?
- What is the purpose of parenting?
- Is parenting about correcting your children’s hearts or behavior?
- What else is parenting about?
- How should believers be committed to parenting?