Sermon Titled “Real World Parenting” (Ephesians 6:1-4) – Sunday 25th May, 2014
As Christian parents, we all want to see our children grow up to love and serve God. We do our best to instill Godly values in them by taking them to church each week, hoping a new layer of understanding is added to an already solid base of faith.
The truth is however, that any level of faith will most likely be built at home, not in church. In an article by childrensministry.com, the author shared statistics which suggest that approximately 70 to 80% of kids ministered to will walk away from church in their college years. That’s a staggeringly high number, and is probably due to kids actually spending only 40 or so hours a year with youth pastors and bible school teachers, versus approximately 3000 hours at home with parents.
That means it’s up to us, the parents, to make sure our kids are raised in an environment which will serve them well when they’re older. It’s a tough responsibility that we have been charged with, given the world we live in today, but the burden falls squarely on our shoulders and we should not take it lightly. Fortunately, the bible assists us with words of wisdom and instruction, and the Holy Spirit equips us to handle the job.
Let’s look at some of the verses that guide us in our roles as Christian parents, starting with the passage of scripture that this sermon is based on:
1. Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
The greatest commandment of all, according to Jesus, is to love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, and second to that, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We can teach our children to be obedient by demonstrating an authentic love for God, which includes following His ways in all situations.
If our children see that we seek God’s guidance (through the reading of His word and constant prayer), and that we respond to people and situations in loving and caring ways, they’ll eventually understand that we do so because we love Christ and we want to obey and please Him. We are essentially modeling for them what it is to “honor and obey.”
2. Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21 mirrors this verse but also adds “or they will become discouraged.” It’s a sad thing to see grown children leave their home, eager to get as far away as possible and with no intentions of ever looking back. Yet this is the reality for some families; some fathers (and/or mothers) have so “exasperated” their children that by the time they are young adults heading out into the world, they leave their homes feeling unloved and worthless.
Fathers – you are the direct representative of God the Father to your children! Your job is to love, care for, provide for, nurture, teach, protect, and discipline your children. In return, you will be rewarded with children who are spiritually mature and responsible. Proverbs 23:24 says, “The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.”
3. Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
It’s easy to read these verses and make a “mental” commitment to lay down the household rules and be consistent with discipline, but following through is not always easy. Most of the families at Koza Baptist Church for example, are military families, and while I don’t wish to use that as an excuse I do believe we face additional challenges when it comes to disciplining our children.
For the mothers, the challenge arises when husbands are deployed and parenting becomes a solo effort (in a foreign country with no support from other family members). Mothers in this position are tempted to become lax in their disciplinary intentions because they’re simply too tired to assert their authority. Fortunately at Koza, we have an amazing team of women who are quick to recognize when a fellow sister needs help, but it also pays to speak up if you’re struggling.
Military dads on the other hand, and especially those who are often away from home, can sometimes damage their children by either “spoiling” them (as compensation for being absent), or by being overly strict because discipline was lacking while they were gone. It’s a challenge, but these dads need to work hard to find the right balance – a firm but loving approach is what their children need.
4. Mark 10:9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
In other words, stay married! No matter how difficult, unfulfilling, or unpleasant your marriage is, do whatever it takes to fight for it (unless of course you are the victim of abuse, or your spouse is committing adultery and has no intentions of stopping).
If God’s word is not enough to convince you, then take a look at just a few of the “Children-Divorce” statistics from www.children-and-divorce.com:
- 50% of all North-American children will witness the divorce of their parents. Almost half of them will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage. (Furstenberg and others -Life Course-)
- One out of 10 children of divorce experiences three or more parental marriage breakups. (Gallagher -The Abolition of Marriage)
- 40% of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers. (Wade, Horn and Busy, -Fathers, Marriage and Welfare Reform, Hudson Institute Executive Briefing, 1997)
- Children from divorced homes have more psychological problems than children from which one of the parents has died. (Robert E. Emery,- Marriage, Divorce and Children’s Adjustment- Sage Publications, 1988).
If your children have already felt the sting of divorce, it’s not too late to raise them up in the ways of the Lord. One of the standing jokes about parenting is that children come without a handbook or a manual, but Christian parents have something even better – the bible. God’s word is full of biblical wisdom and practical advice.
The best place to start perhaps, is in the book of Matthew (6:33): “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” and in doing so God promises to reward you by “adding” to your life, in all the ways that He sees fit to bless you. Some of the blessings we receive are intangible blessings, such as knowledge, wisdom, and discernment.
Isaiah 50:4 is another encouraging verse; it says that a) the Lord gives us instruction, b) His word, and our knowledge of it, sustains the weary (this is particularly reassuring for busy moms with deployed husbands), and c) He wakens us each morning and prepares us to hear from Him. With His daily instruction and provision, we can confidently lead and love our children.
Two final things that Christian parents should do, include:
- Teaching your children God’s word not just by taking them to church and sharing bible verses with them, but by showing them the word through everyday occurrences and observations (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
- Telling your children – frequently – that you love them and that you’re proud of them. Withholding these words is detrimental to their emotional and spiritual development. Love your children with actions and with words.
“We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are.” Dr. James Dobson