Parenting: Instructing in the Lord’s Way
We are currently in a fun sermon series entitled, “Family Matters,” where we look at God’s design for family, including marriage, parenting, and more. You can listen to today’s sermon on parenting, watch our full service on YouTube, and follow along with the sermon notes below.
I want to talk about parenting today. I know some of you will move to the edge of your seat in anticipation. Some of you just sunk down and checked your phone. Hold up! Don’t tune out just yet. Our calling as Christians is preach the Gospel and help people obey all that Jesus commanded. We are called to make disciples. We want to be followers of Christ who are helping others follow Christ. You have heard a lot about this. We talk about with our small groups. We want to grow in responding to God’s word. We want to grow in telling others about Jesus.
Parenting is about discipleship. It’s one of the closest relationships we have, one of the most significant discipleship opportunities we have. If you are a parent, you know it is one of the hardest discipleship opportunities. They see you at your best and worst. You give an inch, and they take a mile. You are trying to form a person when you are worn out and don’t know what to do. I hope this encourages you.
If you don’t have kids, I think this will still inform how you seek to help and lead others to Jesus.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV)
This passage establishes a connection with parents and children. Children are to honor their parents. Parents are to instruct them.
Many today feel children are an inconvenience. It is a privilege. Christianity teaches that we are to love our kids, and that we shape them and will be shaped by them.
Children are called to honor parents. Never grow out of this. You will always do it. It does look different at 45 than it did at five, but you need to honor them. But parents, we need to seek to live honorably as well. Don’t just bark at them to obey.
Parents must instruct in way that honors the Lord
“Fathers do not exasperate.” “Exasperate” means irritated or annoyed especially to the point of injudicious action. He addresses fathers here. I think in most parent relationships mothers are more nurturing and fathers are firmer. That’s a generalization. It is good to have that balance in a family, but also note at times moms need to be firm and fathers need to be compassionate.
One thing about ministry is that how you do something is as important as what you do. I can decide to do an outreach to the highschoolers that play basketball at the rec area. Great idea! If people are not on board, and I just keep yelling at them to do more I can burn people out in the process of doing a good thing. I don’t think that is a good plan. Yes, there are times to push people. Bu don’t wear them out.
There are times you need to correct your kids. They make mistakes. They are young. A lot of things they will grow out of. There are times where you reaction to things is not balanced with what the child has done. Your correction is not justice. Maybe you yell and go from correcting and warning, to tearing them down. Maybe you’re passive aggressive. You don’t say a word and go a long time without speaking to them. Your actions may go well beyond a just correction. Don’t exasperate them. Build them up. Strengthen them.
Bring them up.
Nourish them, feed them. You need to feed them not just physical food, but also a spiritual diet. Some of you are fasting from the spiritual. It ain’t there. Some of you are on the McDonald’s spiritual diet- what you are giving yourself and your kids is not good or healthy.
Parents, you are to be the primary spiritual guides for your kids. Don’t outsource. What message are they hearing most throughout the day? The worlds or God’s?
An “Instruction” is: a teaching, admonition, warning, ethical and corrective instruction in regard to belief or behavior.
Bringing them up in the fear and instruction of the Lord is what we are called to do. We need to teach them the word of God. This is a great responsibility, but it is so encouraging. Apart from God’s word I don’t have a lot of advice for my kids. I had a friend who shared with me one time her grandmother was getting along in years, knew there wasn’t a lot of time, and she turned to my friend, her granddaughter, and said, “What did you learn from me? What stands out?” My friend looked to her grandma and said, “I will always remember that you taught me how to fold towels.”
It’s kind of humorous. You never know what kids will remember, but many if I get to the end of my years and the people closest to me only know how to fold a towel, shoot a deer, or program an app, then I have missed something. And they have to. With God’s word we have something so rich, so meaningful, so important and influential to share with others.
What do you want your friends to remember you for? What do you want your coworkers to remember you for? What do you want to instill in others and in your own kids? Let’s help them know the Lord. Let’s bring them up to know and fear him, to experience the blessing in him.
So how do we do this? How do we help someone to know God? Parenting, discipleship, involves communicating with another. It involves directing them to see, know, understand, and love what God has done. It gets done with intentionality. It never just happens. It takes preparation.
I want to give you some tools to use. There isn’t just one tool. You need to have several. People are different and they are all in different places. We need to know what to do at different times.
Tools for Your Parenting Tool Belt
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)
If someone is idle, they need some admonishment. If someone is fainthearted then admonishing them may not be the best thing to do. If they are about to give up and you come and lay the smack down, that’s probably not a good idea. I think about a plant that is withering and faint. You don’t go and kick it. It is barely making it. You nurture it with water. If someone is acting a fool, you don’t encourage them. You rebuke them. Give a stern warning.
In a race, if someone is coming in at the end and about to give up, they need a push. Or if the start gun goes off and they stand there, they need a prodding. If they’re about to run in the wrong direction, they need a strong rebuke.
Be patient with them all. Patience is such a key. Many analogies in Scripture for spiritual growth are that of seeds in the ground. You can’t rush. Work and wait. That reminds us not to exasperate. Exasperation comes when you want things on your timing and not God’s. Exasperation comes when you want the already weaned infant, a potty-trained toddler, a 13-year-old that acts like a 30-year-old, a little brother that acts like he is a grown up. And you kids, you want the mother that has already raised her kids, but you have the one who is in the process of figuring it out. The wrong expectations will kill relationships.
Discipleship is about communication. As parents, we communicate the instruction of the Lord. Most of this comes from Ted Trip’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Its a very good book!
Instructing a Child’s Heart
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
If you see something about to fall over you go over and strengthen it. You need to do that with people. Last week Rachael shared how she had a realization that she needed to affirm her husband to her kids. She began honoring him around them and it made a huge difference in their relationship. He was strengthened and no doubt did the same for her.
Look for ways to build your children up. Build them up in talking about their skills. Sometimes they need courage. Build them up so they can rest in your love. It is one thing to realize I didn’t do well on my math test. It is another to know I didn’t do well on my math test, and I don’t know if my parents will still love me. Make sure they know the difference.
At soccer games the coach is on the side, and it’s mostly encouragement. “Keep doing this. You can do it!” And then maybe as the coach, you see the kids doing some things that are a little off, so you call timeout and bring everyone in. You give them instruction. You lay things out in more detail.
I remember when I first came to faith and shortly after that I was at a leaders meeting for the college ministry. I was having a bad day and didn’t really want to be there. After the meeting, my pastor pulled me aside and said, “How are you doing?” I said, “Fine.” He said, “Well champ, you seem really unhappy to be here, and it seems like you are more focused on yourself than caring about others. Jesus said the way to be greatest is to be servant of all. This is an opportunity to honor him and serve others. Think about him and not yourself.” I was blown away, both that he would say that and he understood me and was giving me some good advice.
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span,” (Isa 40:12 ESV)
Teach them about the spiritual disciplines God calls us to. Help them to see the importance of being in his word, being a part of church community. In 2017 the US Surgeon General said we were in a loneliness epidemic and said it was a health crisis. That was before COVID. Instruct them in talking to people face-to-face. Help them see the value of things like going to small group and don’t want to miss. Building relationships take time.
Entreat: earnest and intense communication.
“My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded.” (Pro 1:10 CSB)
This example from Proverbs is not a stoic instruction. There is emotion behind it. It is ok to show your kids emotion.
It’s good for your kids to see you present certain instructions with emphatic and intentional emotion. Make sure it is constructive and not just angry because you are not getting your way. But it’s appropriate to plead with people on certain things.
Warning: Puts us on guard for probable danger.
“I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; 31 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. 32 I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– 34 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. (Proverbs 24:30-34 NIV)
That is good instruction. As you go through life, help them to see the positive examples of how to live. Show them the negative examples too. Many people lead their kids to believe they can do whatever they want with no consequences. That’s just not true.
This root indicates a check applied to a person or peoples through strong admonitions or actions. Jacob rebukes Joseph when he relates the dream of sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing to him
“Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,” (Tit 1:13 ESV)
Kids need to know when they have done something wrong. Parents, you will need to correct your children. If you are discipling someone you will need to do that. We mess up. We need it. Nobody likes doing it, but it is necessary.
You may at times use words. You may need things to get their attention more. When kids are little and try to stick their hands in the outlet, we give them a rebuke. If they run in the street, I’d rebuke them because I don’t want them to die! When they are young this is a way to teach. Don’t do it for everything. There is a difference between not sharing your bike and running into the road. When little they are always doing something. You have to shut off the foolishness and listen.
“A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother.” (Pro 29:15 CSB)
God disciplines his children. It never seems pleasant. But it is good. He uses it in our lives.
Know your child and what their needs are. Know what exasperates them an what doesn’t get their attention. At one point in my family, we found the ultimate “rod” was to take away video games and/or dress ups. Each was different.
You are instructing your kids in how to live every day. For better or worse. Some of your most discouraging moments will be when you realize the poor behavior coming from your kids is the way they have seen you react and deal with things.
We are created in God’s image and called to image him. We are born to imitate.
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1Co 11:1 ESV)
If you want them to not use certain words, don’t use them. If you don’t want them to watch certain movies, why are you watching them?
You show them how to clean up a room, how to sweep, how to change the oil, how to manage a checkbook, or how to make an appropriate peanut butter banana smoothie!
Set an example of following Jesus.
- Prayer. Pray with your kids.
- Read Bible.
- Confess sins.
- Love and honor God. If you tell your kids not to do something and then go and do it, you are teaching them what it is to be a hypocrite.
- There is nothing greater that you can give your kids then your own walk with the Lord. You can’t fake love for him. You can’t fake passion.
Lastly I want to give you four important points to explain to them the hope that is in Jesus. People are living detached from God’s word, detached from a biblical worldview. They are searching to make sense out of the world.
The story of the Bible, the stages of God working in the world. Can be summed up in four steps.
Order, purpose, direction.
Wonder, beauty, goodness.
You are created good.
Disorder, confusion, distortion.
There is evil in the world. We see it.
We are fallen people. You may feel uneasy in who you are. Feel dysphoria.
Experience hardship: broken relationships. People fighting. Life can get ugly. The Bible makes sense of this.
Jesus died for sin.
“but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” (Rom 5:20 ESV)
Don’t expect your kids to be perfect. They need Jesus. Give them grace. Show them what grace is. Elyse Fitzpatrick talked about her kids having terrible days, and she is mad at all of them by the end of the day. So she’s trying to decide what to do, and she goes a surprising direction. She comes out and says, “Let’s all go get ice cream.” Her kids looked at her with a little excitement and tons of confusion. It has been a terrible day. No one deserves it. That is what grace is. “I love you and want you to know that.”
This is so important. Your kids won’t be perfect. I hear parents say that but then Suzie gets mad and yells and then she is enrolled in counseling and parents are hoping everything gets fixed. You will sin and make mistakes. Your kids will too. Your friends will too.
A new and perfect world.
What is your hope for things to be made right? It is that Jesus is going to come back, call those who are his to himself, remove all the problems in the world, and then reign from his throne on earth. His glory will shine in all its fullness.