Our culture has lost its way with respect to parenting and lacks a sense of direction like a rudderless ship without a compass. In this age, many people have children, but do not want to be parents because our culture convinces us to quench our personal thirst for fulfillment. This seems to be why so many parents talk about getting in “quality time” with their children when in the days of yesteryear; it was about quantity of time. The fact is parents are spending the minimal time with their children. How did this happen?
It is no mystery that Dad is rarely seen as the boss of the home and that Mom doesn’t have to be obedient to Dad because our society has changed the way we think about authority and rights. It seems that everyone is screaming out for their rights and sadly, children sit in this climate and are no longer able to sit still, no longer fearing consequences of talking back and no longer accept a submissive role in life. Let’s face it, the old ways of parenting no longer work as they did and we lament the passing away of this way or raising children. Alas, as a result, parents are frustrated and confused. Children don’t act like they should and parents don’t know why. Many today even think it is impossible to do the work of a parent.
Parents, church and friends, we are losing our children in and out of the church and these problems grow up with these children who will in turn pass it to the next generation. But, I believe you can raise children in Godly ways in the 21st century while at the same time, not caving in and saying its impossible to parent a child even though experience tells you it is inevitable. Friends, experience is not a safe guide. The only safe guide is the Bible. It is the revelation of God and absolute truth that is both robust, complete and accurate and it gives us a picture not only of parents, children, family values, but of training, nurturing and disciplining, which is equipping us for the task of parenting. It is true that God’s ways are not inadequate to today.
God calls his creatures to live under authority. He is our authority and we must never be embarrassed to be authorities for our children. Parents often forget that we exercise authority as God’s agents and direct our children on God’s behalf for their good. Thus, we cannot be “do it or eat it” parents nor can we be a “wimp”. God calls parents to be kind and to exercise authority, not in making them do what you want, but in being servants to them. It seems I already know the answer, but how many parents would lay down their lives for their children? So, why hold them under our power when we need to be empowering them to be self controlled people living freely under the authority of God? Jesus is a prime example of this in Jn. 13 who knew that the Father had put all things under his authority. Yet, he used a towel as he washed his disciples feet, serving them.
As parents, even though we exercise authority, we must require obedience of our children because they are called by God to obey and honor you. Therefore, we exercise authority because we love them and if authority best describes the parents’ relationship to the children, the best description of the activity of the parent to the child is shepherding. The parent is the child’s guide helping him to understand himself and the world in which he lives. He shepherds the child to understand not just the “what” of the child’s actions, but also the “why.” As the shepherd, you want to help your child understand himself as a creature made by and for God. You must shepherd his thoughts, helping him to learn discernment and wisdom. Thus as Prov. 13:20 tells us, “He who walks with the wise becomes wise.”
As parents we cannot forget that God’s word is the power of God to salvation for our children. And therefore, we need to direct the attitudes of their heart. For, successful parenting CANNOT simply be well–‐behaved children. Your children must also understand why they sin and how to recognize internal changes teaching them that out of the heart can comes destruction. And, it is the Gospel that enables us and our children to face the worst in ourselves (sin) and yet, still Dind hope because of the grace of God. But, when we fail to hold out God’s standard, you rob your child of the mercy of the Gospel. Ultimately, our children must internalize the message of the Gospel and so while the child holds the claims of the Gospel at arm’s length, will our shepherding roles as parents help him to embrace God or cast Him away?
Parents have a marvelous opportunity to help his child pursue with honesty all his questions of faith. Let us not forget that the Word of God is robust and that the Christian faith can withstand close, honest scrutiny. Thus, as we walk and talk with our sons and daughters and even grandchildren, that we are not just talking, we are instructing them. We ought to be sharing the goodness of knowing God.