Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Embracing Biblical Approach to Parenting

There is a shocking unwillingness and failure by our society to listen to God-given instructions on parenting. Biblical principles have been at best forgotten and at worse ignored – yet it is only God, the Creator and Redeemer of sinners, who has the ultimate remedy and solution to the whole aspect of being faithful parents and godly family builders. This then explains why the society is disintegrating. Morality has been spurned and the result is a common moral decadence. The only way to deal with this situation is to acknowledge this unfortunate failure and take it to God, in repentance and ask for forgiveness and wisdom in dealing with the matter. The general attitude of bringing up children in the society is usually not based on Biblical principles but mostly philosophical. There is no question that there are pressure from society to adopt worldly standards, and there is no problem if unbelievers accepted them. However, it is shocking that Christians are embracing elementary principles of the world.
As a minister of the gospel, I consider it my responsibility to explain God’s word to you so that you may be a better parent:

1)      Biblical parenting has to begin with God and His instructions
So I want to begin by begging you all, not consider yourselves wiser than God. I encourage you go back to the Scriptures and learn the mind of God in regard to method of parenting. God understands that our age has produced children who do not obey their parents – see Romans 1:28; 2Timothy 3:2. This is a very serious sin and such children who are disobedient to their parents are going to hell. So we better take this very seriously.
God has given us the Scriptures so that we can be better parents, bearing in mind that God is Himself our Father and expects us to relate with Him. He also expects us to take our parenting model from Him and not from the world. Listen to what He has to say in His Word in Ephesians 6:1-4
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

2)       Who is responsible for bringing up children?
“Fathers...” This does not mean parents because he could have said so like he did in verse 1… neither does it mean fathers and mothers because he has already used it in verse 2! Fathers are held by God as directly responsible to bring up children as a His delegated responsibility. While I say this I acknowledge that there are those without fathers. This means that the role of father is being played by someone else and this is the person who is being instructed here to be responsible for the bringing up of the children. Obviously this is the role only a parent can do, not a school.
In this country Fathers have relegated most part of this responsibility to schools for the most of the time. TV and internet or radio play a big role also in child upbringing in many homes. At best many parents have given an for the church to do something in the lives of their children. For other parents it does not matter. Interesting enough, the world will tell you this for free,
Several research studies in the USA and Europe found that church attendance practices of parents, especially fathers, can be highly influential in forming the future church attendance practices of their children. Wikipedia
Children are picked from home by the school bus at 5am if they are lucky, others will have to leave at 4am! The school next door, a Christian School has their buses on at 3.30am! the children are brought to school before 6am and leave after 9m! Schools particularly boarding schools have taken this role so ‘well’ that they even give instructions to the parents  on when they can visit and see their children – if you come any other time, for example, to pay fees, you will not be allowed to your daughter or son! There is something very very wrong here! Things are upside down.
For this reason we need to reconsider sending children to boarding schools especially primary boarding schools. Obviously children should be educated but in a way that does not take away God-given responsibility from you. I have taught in a boarding primary and I can assure you that the children there are begging for parental love and guidance. This is why Guidance and Counselling and Psychology is a big business in the Kenyan Schools. The government is investing in it because schools being torched by these children. Why is there no home torched by irate children? Because children consider school to be a prison of some sort!

A.      What must the Fathers NOT DO?
" Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger…”
a)      Harsh discipline and excessive punishment - this cannot secure obedience  instead it will produce resentment. This can be done out of either unbridled anger, hitting the child wherever the parent wishes, venting his frustrations so that it is done in the most punitive manner.
b)      No discipline at all – you feel that you do not want to ‘hurt your children’ etc. we will deal with this later.
c)       Inconsistent standards - changing of goal posts.
a)      Not set too high standards
b)      Unwillingness to listen to the children
c)       Simple neglect - no time of the children
d)      Inconsistent life of the fathers or parents

B.      What must fathers DO?
Fathers, … but bring them up in the discipline… of the Lord”
Bringing up the children is the same as nourishing and nurturing them to become mature and responsible members of the society. In the following areas:
1)      Spiritually - teaching all your children the Word daily.
a)      Instructing them to obey God's commands,
b)      Taking them to a good biblical church, where they will be taught God’s Word faithfully

2)      Intellectual – equip the mind and instruct, train them into godliness, Instil wisdom and discipline. Teach them to apply the knowledge in various areas of their lives.
3)      Physical - nutrition, excise – make sure that they are fed well and are playing or exercising enough
4)      Social - taught to know how to relate with older people, agemates, family responsibilities
5)      Vocational - how to handle money, how to fix stuff, to repair … Make sure that you give a life skill especially in the use of their own hands. Gardening, mechanic, driving etc.

a)      Discipline bring them up in the discipline … of the Lord.

This means educating with enforcement of action. Mark the Word action… in this case you have to move into action. It is education in five things above, enforcing what has been taught (Heb.12: 5-6)
Discipline is necessary because folly is bound up in the heart of the child (Proverbs 22:15). Each child hugs and kisses foolishness, that should be dealt with by spanking. It is because of the folly that is bound up in the heart of the child that God has designed the rod of discipline.
It is for this reason that God has said so clearly that the rod of correction imparts wisdom (Prov. 29:15). And again, punish him (a child) with the rod and save his soul from death (Prov. 23:14). A child who refuses to be under authority is in a grave eternal danger and it is the parent’s responsibility to rescue and save the children – timely and faithful use of the rod is the God-ordained means of rescue. Clearly a child who will not submit to parental authority is along with it rejecting God’s authority and this is eternal death. Properly administered discipline humbles the heart of a child, making him subject to parental authority.
We have however, to be aware that no discipline at the time seems pleasant, but is painful. This by implication means that the rod has to be administered in a manner that is painful! But later on it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11). The rod of discipline, while it brings with it pain, it also comes with a harvest of righteousness and peace (with the parent and with the Lord who is the Supreme and originator of all authority). We have to bear in mind that the any child left to its own folly disgraces his mother… so discipline your son and he will give you peace, he will bring delight to your soul (Prov. 29:15,17).
Instilling discipline in punishment - Prov.13:24; 19:18; 22:13-14
Spurgeon being taken out to see the gardens of his host, saw lovely British flower gardens, very well tendered. And then there was this bush that had weeds and diseased and unsightly! Mr. Spurgeon asked why that was left like that. The host said, “I have left that to its own discretion!” When children will be left without tender care, and attention in terms of discipline, they will soon be like that unsightly bush. All you need to do to prove this is, take a walk up the street in town and find the street kids – they are called street urchins!

a)      A Parental exercise – physical discipline has to be packaged with the on-going parent-child love.
b)      An Act of Faith – we do it not because we know how exactly it works but because God has commanded us to us it.
c)       An Act of Faithfulness – towards the child. Knowing that there is hope and it is unwillingness of the parent to be party to his child’s death.
d)      A Responsibility – it is the parent determining to obey God as His representative in the life of the child.
e)      A Physical Punishment – the careful, timely, measured and controlled use of physical punishment without anger, frustration or malice. Remembering that man’s anger does not produce the righteous life that God desires (James 1:20).
f)       It is a Rescue Mission – it is designed to bring back the child from its foolishness and doom to life.
We must never over react to our backgrounds of harshness or of vacuum and lack in discipline. Rather we should be guided by God in His Word as to how to go about this important task in the bringing up of our children.
There are people who have all sorts of objections against discipline:
i)                    I love my children too much to spank and hurt them – it is understandable but the more important question is who benefits from the spanking? Who is at risk left with the spanking? He who spares the rod hates the child, but he who loves is careful to discipline (Prov. 13:24)
ii)                   I am afraid that I will hurt him – but the biblical instruction is, “Do not withhold discipline form a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” (Prov. 23:13-14)
iii)                 I am afraid it will make him rebellious and angry – discipline brings peace in the home for the parents – Proverbs 29:17
iv)                 It doesn’t work – It will not work if used inconsistently, failure to persist in it until there is change on the child, failure to be effective as the child feels no pain, doing it in anger (when the child feel that it is unjust). But it does work because it a God-given prescription!
v)                  I am afraid of the government authorities who may arrest me for child abuse – while you have to be careful with those who could report you and so do it privately, but the basic question is will you obey God or men?
Verse that talk about Discipline:
1.       Proverbs 23;13-19
2.       Proverbs 23:22
3.       Proverbs  2326
4.       Proverbs 18:2 – the need to train the children to articulate their thoughts and feelings honestly and clearly.
5.       Proverbs 22:15 – folly is bound up in the heart of the child
Yet I consider that more than discipline, the most difficult part of parenting is to do with instruction. This is positively seeking to educate your children unto good works.
b)      Instruction - bring them up in the … instruction of the Lord.
This is instructing in words in specifics so as to produce a life change … it is to admonish - Acts 20:31; Or instruction and reasoning (1Cor. 10:11); and warning them (Tit.3:10). We are talking of communication with your children here. In many homes communication involves setting rules, followed by correction and then discipline. I want to add to these the following things important for instruction in the Lord:

Designed to inspire, fill with hope, courage
Bringing into conformity to standard
Censuring behaviour – get the child to experience your sense of alarm, shock, dismay at what he has done or said
Intense, earnest communication – involving pleading, soliciting, urging and even begging – Proverbs 23:26
Providing lessons, precepts or information – Psalm 119:98-100, 104
Merciful speech, alerting one to stay from danger or ruin – Proverbs 12:24; 13:18; 14:23; 15:1; 16:18; 17:19; 19:15. Warn them using Scriptures as well as real life examples
The process of imparting knowledge
Praying with the child is important, as they hear parents communication with God and consequently learn how to pray that way. As parent hear the child pray, one will get to know them more

The specific instruction is to instruct them in the word of the Lord. When you punish them it is in obedience of the Lord. Those who think that they blew it, can still seek out older children and ask them for forgiveness and tell them your desire is to make a change for its never too late to change. Basically Parenting Communication involves rules,  correction and discipline. But communication is the preventative method.

1 comment:

  1. We are doing everything we can to give our son the foundation and understanding he needs to succeed in his faith. I've been reading a great new book by Dr. Tony Evans. One of the goals of the book is to help parents grow in confidence as they discover their worth as a parent based on God's Word. He says just what you are saying, "Instructing your children in the Lord means spending time with them so they can see how you live out the gospel." It’s called "Raising Kingdom Kids: Giving Your Child a Living Faith." He says, "It's far easier to SHAPE A CHILD than to REPAIR AN ADULT. Raising kids who recognize and retain their identity as children of the King launches healthy adults who have the capacity to stand strong in their faith." Equipping and guiding our children starts with us, parents! This is the most solid, thorough, inspirational and affirming parent book I've ever read! I love it and HIGHLY recommend it for all parents! www.raisingkingdomkids.com