“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and so that you may prosper in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
The Tables That Turn
How often did you hear the phrase, “Because I said so!” when you were growing up? Most of us remember receiving this frustrating terminology from the adults in our lives, swearing that we’d never be that kind of parent ourselves. But the tables have turned, haven’t they? What we as kids only saw as injustice and harshness, we now recognize to be wisdom, discernment, and insightful parameters for our own flourishing. It’s such an honor now to look back and see how far we’ve grown and matured…but now what? How do we offer this same insight to the next generation?
We’ve gotten out of the life stage where we mistakenly believed ourselves to have known everything. And now we recognize a shift in the ways we now regard authority. This is true for us both as children of God and as parents of the next generation’s disciples. So, how do we teach our kids to go from viewing our parental guidance as a damper to instead seeing it as an honor to give and to receive in love?
A Promise for Us All
It turns out that strong-willed children aren’t just new to the modern age, though outside influences undoubtedly seem to hold a larger sway in how our kids relate to the world around them. Just as we are trying to disciple and parent our children, so, too, were God’s people in the days of the Old Covenant. (It turns out that the Lord didn’t just throw an “Honor your mother and father” in there so you’d have an excuse to give your child “the look” during Sunday’s sermon!)
Through Moses, God declared, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and so that you may prosper in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” This was the first commandment with a promise, a reward that applies to us still today. And though we know of the favor that comes with walking in obedience to the Lord, this is also simply the blessing of walking in harmony with others…just as God intended. We must teach our children to recognize the benefit of seeking peace with others (Romans 12:18). This means extending honor to those God has placed in charge…which means us as their parents.
With Love as The Source
But how are we to really live out the honor that is due to us as parents? How will our kids see the blessing that obedience offers and entails? It requires a lot of grace, patience, and meeting our children where they are. Even more, it means open communication, trust, and explaining your heart for them. Setting expectations and restrictions is never fun or easy. Yet it allows us to raise them into the people they are meant to be. But here’s the most difficult part. To do this job well requires offering more insight than a simple “Because I said so!”, yet we must still establish boundaries and guidelines for their flourishing.
Just as we know our heavenly Father loves us, so, too, should our children be able to know of the care and affection we have for them. May we openly speak of our love for our kids to them, that they would never doubt our heart or intentions…and that they may come to know the Father’s love through the ways we seek to love them. It’s such an honor to heed this call of discipleship as parents; may our children feel the honor it is to walk alongside us as we all seek to humbly follow the Lord our God together. May it never stem from drudgery or duty, but rather out of devotion and dedication to the God who has give His all for us.
Consider the type of influence you needed most throughout your most developmental stages of life. For better or for worse, who were your greatest influences? Were they godly figures or not? How can you be the figure you most needed then for those in your household and church community now? How can you communicate and embody the honor of obedience in both spaces?