The premise of this book is to lay the foundation of biblical discipline and childrearing within our families. This is a book that has as much advice concerning our relationship with our spouses and the role each one plays in raising children, as it does in the directing and instruction of our children. When we understand that behavior is a matter of the heart, that there are influences that shape our hearts, we are created to worship (God or idols), and what role we play in authority; then we can begin to set realistic goals for ourselves and our children.
Biblically, from the womb we are sinners. We sin because of who we are, sinners; we are not sinners because of what we do, sin. So many times as a parent, my reaction to bad behavior only serves to address “what” happened, instead of “why” it happened. When I correct my son for the “what” that he did wrong, I miss an opportunity to address the “why” he did wrong, and therefore miss an opportunity to show him the gospel. Jesus often charged the Pharisees of this as well. Outwardly, they would do the “right” things, but inwardly their hearts were deceitfully wicked. When we only address the behavior itself, and not the reason for the behavior, we teach our children to have a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.
We must also take into account several shaping influences that further explain why we respond or do not respond to correction. To name a couple, “family values”, and “family roles” helped me to be aware of some mistakes that I have made and to personally develop methods of better parenting. Concerning family values; we must ensure that we are not setting the precedence that tangible things are more important than simple obedience. Do I discipline my son when he causes an inconvenience to me or property, or because of his disobedience to my authority and to God’s command? Furthermore, the role that I play within my family should complement and not contradict what my wife’s role is. Our combined role within the family should display harmony and likemindedness concerning matters of discipline, authority, and decisions.
The most important lesson of this book addresses how our children (and us) view our relationship to God. Taking the example of Joseph; his shaping influences were not in his favor. However, his relationship with God revealed love, mercy, and grace that molded him into a leader that actively proved these very traits. Ensuring that we cultivate a relationship with our children to desire the things of God, it becomes easier for us to display the attributes of God during childrearing. When they see that we obey God and are used as His instrument in raising them, they understand that their disobedience is not toward us, but toward God Himself. It is important that our children know that they are disobeying God when they sin, we are His instruments for correction and instruction, and that He wants to restore a personal relationship with them. This helps them to better understand the consequences of their actions, and cultivates a desire to obey because it pleases God who loves them.
Understanding that God is my authority, and He has given me the responsibility to carry out His commands, instructions, and disciplines, helps me understand how to provide direction under His authority. It cannot be simply, “I am dad, and what I say goes.” It must be, “God desires obedience, I am accountable to Him, and must carry out His instruction.” When I align myself biblically as God’s instrument in childrearing, it changes the way I communicate with my son, discipline, encourage, instruct, and guide him from childhood to adulthood. I cannot simply get angry because I am not getting what I want from my son, but that because God is not being honored in his actions. It is not a contest between obeying me or obeying God. It is simply, God is not obeyed when I am disobeyed, and God is not honored when I am not honored. We must insist on obedience to God because obeying Him is good and right.
Simply put; my expectations of obedience, my role in discipline, my responsibility in raising my children are in fact not mine at all! I am blessed of God to rear and raise children. My role is to be His agent to carry out His authority, and to direct the hearts of my children toward the Father. Our responsibility to our children is to show them their Creator, to worship Him and not self, and to lead them to a place of restoration to Him because of their sin nature. The greatest desire I have as a father is to see my children come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I must always be careful to not supersede His authority with my own in the eyes of my children. They must see Christ’s attributes in my life, and know that He desires a personal relationship with them. To biblically model this, I must also remain sensitive in my obedience to Him, and teach by example, obedience to my children to Him also.
Vision for the World