The following post is the manuscript of a Sunday teaching I delivered on June 7, 2020.
The other day Xavier and I were sitting down watching a show. He turned and looked at me with all kinds of excitement: “Every person is a kid because every person has parents.” We are all progeny. We all come from somewhere and from someone. The goal of the church is to reproduce the character and priorities of our heavenly Father into the lives of others.
Our vision at Generations Church is to be a community of everyday people committed to expanding God’s family together because of Jesus for generations to come.
We want the next generations to be told about the Lord and what he has done. It is this same akin vision that Paul writes to the church in Colossae. Paul gives the church in Colossae direction and application for how the good news of Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and powerful resurrection to being a kid and parenting. This good news affects the relationship with society, relationships in the church, and not relationships in the home.
While you might not be a parent, part of our followership of Jesus requires us to be spiritual parents, thus as we invest in the lives of others the same principles apply.
Colossians 3:20-21 state, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children so that they won’t become discouraged.”
The children are addressed as responsible persons within the congregation. We do our best at Generations to ensure that kids aren’t just shuttled off into a corner to be quiet, rather they are active participants in the faith community.
Children, obey your parents in all things: Paul has in mind children who are still in their parents’ household and under their authority. When a child is grown and out of his parents’ household, he is no longer under the same obligation of obedience, but the obligation to honor your father and mother throughout the Scriptures remains.
This assumes the goodness of the Christian parents and therefore requires children to do what good parents instruct. Kids, you must strengthen your obedience muscle. Even Jesus had to learn obedience during his earthly existence.
- Do the simple tasks they ask you to do.
- Ask questions to learn, not to challenge.
Almost every parent has had the experience where you have told your kid no or to stop and the kid looks you in the eye and proceeds to go in the opposite direction. Obedience to God is not our natural bent. Therefore, obedience is learned. If your parents are directing you to follow the ways of Jesus then take the opportunity to strengthen your obedience muscle.
For this is pleasing to the Lord: This is one of the important reasons for a child’s obedience. When a child respects the parent’s authority, they are respecting God’s order of authority in other areas of life because God has entrusted parents to raise children who love Jesus and leave home as responsible adults.
This is inherent within the Trinity as two titles of care and submission are The Father and The Son. As kids, when we do not follow God’s design in this way — it goes against the very nature of God. Why do you obey your parents/guardians? Because of Jesus…
Children your goal is to be an obedient follower of Jesus. Learning obedience starts at home.
Fathers, do not provoke your children: Children have a responsibility to obey, but parents have a responsibility to not provoke their children. It says fathers, however, most commentaries and scholars see the tense of the typical word usage for Fathers as parents.
Parents can provoke their children by using shame and guilt as weapons through words and actions in an attempt to control, maintain power, gain approval, or feel good about themselves. While at times they may have short-term positive results, they will have long-term negative consequences. Parents your goal is to raise kids that love Jesus and have the capacity to reproduce his character and priorities into others. For better or worse, we reproduce what we are, not what we want to be.
We cannot afford to be ignorant of our own hypocrisy, or the perceived hypocrisy. Do as I say, but not as I do. More is caught than taught.
- Time with technology.
- Good eating habits.
- Followership of Jesus that leads to change.
Lest they become discouraged: Paul is exhorting the parents to raise their kids in such a way to avoid provoking a rebellious attitude in them. The parents who berates and embitters a child flattens that child’s maturation and converts the child to anger. Children who grow up with parents who provoke them will become discouraged. They will not feel the love and the support from their parents like they should, and they will come to believe that the whole world is against them because they feel their parents are against them.
We may attempt to change the heart with the law; only grace can accomplish a changed heart. The goal is maturation as a person that faithfully follows and obeys Jesus.
Parenting is tough. I don’t say that because I’m an expert, but because I was a duplicitous and manipulative kid who gave my parents all kinds of trouble.
Growing up playing sports, entering competitions, when you placed you received a trophy. In a merit saturated culture, we attempt to earn merit in many ways. One way is through our kids.
Parents: If you are not resting as a parent in your identity in Christ, you will look for identity in your children.
If we look for our identity in our children, then we will treat them as trophy-kids. When parents push their personal agendas, the kids miss out on identifying their God-given personality, passions, and spiritual gifts.
“Trophy children are never really about the children as much as they are about the parent. Raising a trophy kid has two pursuits: one, a parent finding their identity or self-worth in their children and their accomplishments, and two, a parent finding a companion in their children.” – Trophy Child by Ted Cunningham
Here are five sure indicators:
- Too much focus on success
- In what ways do you see your children as extensions of yourself? What are some expectations that need to be lowered?
- How do you define commitment to a sport or activity? Is it season to season? Year to year? Is it a commitment for life?
- Too much concern about reputation
- Have you ever disciplined your children to meet the expectations of someone watching?
- Have you ever found yourself saying, “He’s a good kid; he just fell in with the wrong crowd”?
- Too great a desire for control
- What activities give you the most anxiety in parenting?
- Have you ever rescued your child too quickly before all lessons could be learned?
- Too much emphasis on doing rather than being
- Can you think of two or three children you regularly compare to your kids? What is driving your need to compare your children to others?
- When was the last time you admitted you were wrong to your kids? Or asked them for forgiveness?
- Too much temptation to make it personal
- What, if any, emotional needs are you asking your children to meet for you? Quality time? Validation? Comfort?
- If married, do you have a stronger desire to bond with your spouse, stronger than your desire to bond with your kids?
Remember Paul shares this application after first calling the believers to make Christ the substance of your life. You will get it wrong. Admit that you are wrong and make mistakes to God and to your kids.
So will I screw up my kids? We can embrace our inability and not worry our way through our parenting years. Why? Because as parents we serve a gloriously loving and powerful Redeemer. He delights in love. He delights in reconciliation. He delights in repentance and change.
God is with you. He wants what is best for you and your children, and no one but He has the power to produce it. He has not placed the burden of change on your shoulders because he would not require you to do what you cannot do.
Recognize that you are first a child…a child of God. That relationship will transform your parenting.
You were never meant to parent alone. You have others in generations church who are committed to seeing the family of God expand for generations to come.
Generations to come to learn about the name of the Lord and what he has done when a church community identifies the idols within our culture and helps kids and parents bow to the name of Jesus and not the idols of our age.