I will never forget waking up at 6 a.m. one morning when I was a young high school student. I believe the only reason why a high school student would voluntarily be up that early is for food, and that was exactly what I was in search of. I was heading to the kitchen to eat a quick morning snack and go back to bed. The sun was not yet risen so it was still pretty dark. This moment was so rememberable because I remember turning the corner and seeing a person down on a floor in the corner of the room on their knees. Startled, it took me a second to realize who it was. It was my mother. She was up early in the morning on her knees praying. I knew who she was praying for. As a forty-year-old man, because of the amazing example my mother set for me, I sure do believe in the power of prayer.
1. What attributes would you say best define a “good parent?”
For those of you who are single, married without children, or no longer have children in the home, I want to encourage you not to bail on this lesson. Studying the Bible in its entirety is so important to growing in our walk with Christ. If we only pick parts that apply to us we lose out on growing. Picking and choosing what truth we think we best need is never a good way to study. Equally important, we have a God who is our Heavenly Father and He uses a parental relationship to help us understand His love for us. Lastly, the church is family. As a family, we are called to love, pray, teach, and serve the children in our church family.
There are many bad examples of parenting in the Bible.
There are also many good examples of parenting in the Bible
I heard of a Pastor speaking at a conference referencing a meeting that he had with a well-known biblical scholar. The speaker told of how he was so inspired by this man’s work. In their meeting, he asked, “How did you manage to be so prolific.” The scholar answered under his breath, “I sacrificed my son.” Their conversation continued, and the Bible scholar told of the story about his son. The scholar was broken and begged the speaker not to follow in his footsteps.
Parenting is hard, Tony Merida says parenting is like “wet cement. We have a short time to teach and mold them.” So what does a good example look like? Let us look at the Word of God to direct us in being biblical parents.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
This is just one verse but it is packed full of guidance every parent should utilize. I just want to focus our attention on three words:
BRING is such a simple word but the depth of its meaning is amazing.
2. What is the difference between sending and bringing?
Imagine a very busy seven-lane highway. You are standing at the crosswalk with your 5-year-old child. The crosswalk light turns white, at this moment there is a very distinct difference between the word send and bring. No parent would ever run to the other side and shout back to their child, “Come with me.” Also, while cars are driving by, and the clear presence of danger is evident, no parent would push that child out into the traffic and say, “Go.” The moment that light says, “Walk,” you would grab their hand, hold it tightly, and walk right next to them along that path.
3. From these illustrations what are a couple of ways that you could improve in bringing along your child?
As parents, we need to resist the urge to think that God gave us our children so we could rule them. God in His sovereign wisdom did not give you your children so you could rule them with an iron fist. God gave you your children so you can bring them to a place in their life where they can begin their own relationship with God. Our role as parents is not to lord our authority over our children, we are meant to bring them a place where they see the realness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this universe that is not God’s. We are merely stewards and ambassadors that are meant to best reflect the will of our Lord.
DISCIPLINE is by far the scariest word of the three. However, the word points us to steering, protecting, and directing our children to follow the Lord.
Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”
4. How do you (or did you) handle discipline from an authority figure?
To understand discipline we have to understand what true discipline ought to be. Discipline is not meant to be used to create moral, well-behaved, perfect angels out of our children. Too often parents focus on addressing the “fruit” of their child’s sin. Parents focus on external behaviors when a parent ought to be focused on disciplining the child’s “root” sin that is ruling their heart.
5. Do you get more frustrated with your child when they break your laws or God’s laws?
As parents, we discipline our children, not because they break our laws and rules, we discipline because they break God’s. Now, when a child is disobedient, the sin that is ruling their heart is in control of their life, sin breaks God’s heart. God has put you as a parent in your child’s life more to attack and lead your child to God’s discipline. I believe the best way to begin having this mindset is to start with prayer.
6. How can your prayer life change when it comes to discipline and children?
INSTRUCT literally comes from the truth of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Loving your child does not mean you excuse the foolishness that rules their hearts. There is a time for discipline; however, we must take the opportunity to instruct our children. Too often we think that growth comes from one grandiose moment. True instruction is filled with little moments. Please remember, “More is caught than taught,” with children. Make sure you are taking every possible moment to instruct your children about the amazing grace of God. They need to learn how to live for Him, how He loves us, and how to live a life obedient to His calling on our lives.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 commands, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
7. What are ways that have worked well for you when it comes to teaching children the Word of God?”
8. What does God command parents to teach their children?
9. When and where does God tell us to teach that?
10. What are ways the church (people, not programming) can help with this?