Children need to be taught to obey
One of the first words our children learn is obey.
We tell our children they have a very simple job, one job, and that is to obey. We usually say to our children, what’s your job? And they’ll say, obey. This is a very important lesson for them to learn. In fact, as Tedd Tripp writes, “THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON” (especially for a small child) “IS TO LEARN THAT HE OR SHE IS A PERSON UNDER AUTHORITY.” Please do not wait until they are thirteen until to learn obedience. I see this all the time. There are people whose expectations of children are so low that they wait until the child is a teenager until they teach him to obey. No, apart from a special work of God’s grace, that’s too late. The most important lesson you can teach a small child is that they are a person under authority. Now this seems to be a simple enough idea but if you have spent time with children, you know that job is actually not very simple at all. There are times when it seems like the hardest thing in the entire world for them to do is what their parents ask them to do and to do it with a respectful attitude.
I think there are a lot of reasons why it is difficult for children to obey.
One reason it’s difficult for children to obey and honor their parents is because they need Jesus. They are not as good on the inside as we wish and you need to lovingly tell them that, this is part of why you need to bring the law of God, you need to tell your children obey as they struggle to obey, don’t lighten the seriousness of that, that is not where real hope comes from, but instead point them to the Savior who loved them enough to take the punishment for their sin of disobedience.
When our children don’t do their job, obey, which is often with 9 children, we discipline them, talk with them, hug them, and pray with them that God will give them a new heart.
I remember one of our children when we asked them what they wanted for Christmas, they said what they wanted was a new heart, and it’s because of this, because they have seen their sins and need for Christ.
We had an incident recently where one of our children was saying she was sorry to another child, and that child wouldn’t accept her apology, she just turned her back to the one who was saying sorry and was ignoring her; and I thought as I came out to deal with that, what is in our hearts, even from being young, that little sweet girls will treat each other this way, and so I talked to her about what that revealed about her heart and she began to weep and she wept, I then moved on to try to encourage her, that she should feel sorrow but also hope, because she isn’t loved by God because she is a perfect little girl who always does everything right but instead God showed his love to her by sending His perfect Son to take the punishment for her sins and if she trusts in him to forgive her and change her from the inside out.
In spite of all the evidence in our lives, it is very difficult for most of us to believe that we are so bad we need a Savior like that, that’s one of the hardest things in the world for us to believe and so parents as your children struggle to honor and obey you, you always want to try to take advantage of those moments to show them their need of Jesus. It’s hard to believe you need Jesus, so don’t light the command, use the command, and talk to your children and say, you know how hard it is for you to obey the command, that’s because there is something so wrong in your heart, that someone had to die in your place.
The hard time they have obeying shows their need of Jesus.
We spent a few months running a Bible club in a rural township in Africa where a hundred to two hundred children would attend. One time I asked the group of children who here has ever sinned and only three little white hands went up. Children need to be taught they are sinners who are in need of a Savior.
Another reason though that it is difficult for children to obey is because we as parents need Jesus too. Our children may not be as good as we wish, but neither are we. We often make it difficult for our children to obey, and parents I want to talk with you, you want to help your children obey, and yet you put obstacles in their way, it’s almost like you are saying go from this wall to that wall and as they seek to do what you ask, you are trying to trip them, you are putting obstacles in their way.
And in the next several posts, I want us to look at several ways we as parents do just that.