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Lesson Two: Nurturing
Jayson Combs | Family Pastor

Disclaimer: Before we start, it is important to mention the significance of this lesson for both those with children and those who do not have children. All of us are called to impact and love people, whether they are our children in the home, nieces and nephews, friends, or colleagues. The Bible is very clear that the older women are called to teach the younger, and it is the same for the men. So, as we dig deep, please reflect on the people God has placed in your life. 

How can you nurture them and help them grow in their walk with Christ?

One of the worst things in the world for a Youth Pastor is the dreaded all-nighter. It is the event where middle school and high school kids get to hang out and stay awake all night. Unfortunately, the leaders must do the same. Many years ago, I was a middle school Youth Director, and we had one of these “horrific” events in which over one hundred students decided to push through the entire night for fun. I had rented out a community center with a pool, gym, and inflatables. As the night went on, I began to receive complaints from some of the girls. One after another reports were made that bags in the girl’s locker room had been opened and gone through and that several items were missing. At the end of the event, I brought all the girls into a room and told them that we had a thief and that throughout the night someone had been stealing money, jewelry, and whatever else they could find that was valuable. I told the girls that I had contacted the local Police Department and a Police Officer was waiting upstairs. I also made it clear to the girls that they could either tell me and be done with it, or tell the cop (a pretty good play by me if I do say so myself).

Immediately, four girls start pointing at each other. Each one said the other one made them do it. I had the girls return the items and then the best part happened; I went home to sleep. I got up early that afternoon and contacted the parents of the girls who had taken the items. As a young Youth Pastor, I think it was one of the most shocking conversations I had ever had. One of the moms was mad at me. She stated “girls would be girls” and that I had “completely overreacted.” It seemed like the mom saw this as normal behavior for middle schoolers and that I needed to stop bullying her daughter. From this conversation, I realized the family structure, in many cases, was and still is very broken.

Paul, in Ephesians 6:4, tells us how to nurture and grow the family in the way of the Lord, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 6:7 adds, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

In Ephesians 6, the word “father” is translated from the Greek word “pateres.” In the book of Hebrews, however, the same Greek word is translated as “parents.” There does seem to be an emphasis on the “father” in the Ephesians passage, but I believe the following principles can be applied to both the father and mother.

So what does this verse in Ephesians tell us as parents? Paul gives three actions for nurturing children that we will focus on for this lesson: bring, discipline, and instruct.   

The first action comes from the word “bring.” Other translations translate it “nurture.”  The same word is used in Ephesians 5:29, For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”

Can you remember a time in your life when your parents brought you to something and totally embarrassed you?

There is a discussion among many church leaders across the globe as to who should be teaching the children. For decades now, the church has created a divided learning structure where kids and adults have separate classes and gathering times. Some churches, however, are moving toward a more joint teaching and learning time. This argument seems to support the call in the Bible for parents to bring up their children in the Lord. Many supporters of this argument also feel the church has failed the family because the church has facilitated the convenience of sending instead of bringing. Personally, I do see a lot of validity in this argument. Too many times, parents want to send their kids to be taught instead of realizing their role as parents to bring their kids along in their walk with Jesus. However, it must be noted that I also believe the church has a very significant role in helping parents teach their kids. 

What are some practical ways in which we can bring our children along with us in our walk with Christ?

What struggles do you have in doing this?

The second action for fathers or parents is to discipline. The beginning of Ephesians 6:4 gives a warning, “To not provoke your children to anger.” Colossians 3:21 elaborates upon the warning by stating, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” In my experience, this anger and discouragement in sons and daughters can be a direct result of parents who do not know how to properly discipline. Warren Wiersbe, an American Pastor and author, states:

“Parents provoke their children and discourage them by saying one thing and doing another—by always blaming and never praising.  By being inconsistent and unfair in discipline and by showing favoritism in the home by making promises and not keeping them and by making light of problems that to the children are very important. Christian parents need the fullness of the Spirit so they can be sensitive to the needs and problems of their children.”

What things do you do to provoke your children to anger?

The word ‘discipline’ from the Ephesians passage can also be translated ‘to train,’ indicating the need to steer and protect your children. It seems parents do not understand the importance of protecting their kids from things such as phones, computers, friends, and dating relationships. 

How does a parents’ protection of their child change as their son or daughter grows from an infant to a child, a child to a teenager, and a teenage to an adult?

What areas do you struggle with when it comes to discipline and/or protection?

The last action for parents to consider is instructing their children, which can also be translated “to put in the mind.” 

Who was the best instructor you have ever had? Why did that instructor have such an impact in your life?

What is going to make you a better instructor when it comes to raising your children? Romans 16:19 can help, “But I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.”

 

What are things that you have found to be effective when it comes to instructing your children?

Who is one person in your life the group can pray for that you would like to help nurture?

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