Monday, September 24, 2012

The Morning After: The Role of the Parents

I am towards the end of a series on the family. Yesterday, I preached on the role of the parents. Parenting is something that is very near and dear to my heart. I love my children and can't think of anything more enjoyable in this life than seeing them grow up to love Christ. Unfortunately, often times, I find myself trying to survive parenting. I think many others feel that way as well. But it doesn't have to be like that. I wonder if my feelings of survival are brought on because I have bought into lies that have been told of the modern family.

Lie #1: Mom Is In Charge Of The Children
There are many who view their roles in the home as if the father brings home the money and the mother takes care of the children. While the mother will probably have a greater influence on the children (especially if she stays at home with them in their formative years), the father is still responsible. When the Apostle Paul gets around to addressing the parents in all the relationship passages, he speaks to the fathers (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 1:12). Biblical parenting is father-centered parenting.

Now, we must understand that Paul is not trying to undermine the importance of the mothers in these passages. He is trying to stress the importance of the fathers. Why would he need to stress their importance? First, because he is the head of the household. He is the head of the home and upon him falls the responsibility for the spiritual and social upbringing of his children. Second, because he needs these commands more than the mother. In each of these passages, we find that Paul is telling them not to provoke their children to anger. Generally speaking, the man will have more of a problem with anger and tempers than the mother.

We live in a world in which men have abdicated their responsibility in the home as a husband and as a father. It is time for men to step up and feel the weight of their accountability before God in the bringing up of their children in the ways of God.

Lie #2: You Must Show Your Children That You Are The Boss
There is always the temptation by anyone in the authoritative position to misuse their authority. The husband has that problem in relation to his wife and the parents have that problem in relation to their children. In both of those passages mentioned above, the father is called to not anger his children. They are to use their authority in such a way as the children do not become embittered or disheartened. Many people have come up with great lists of what it means to provoke our children to anger. Here is a summary of some of the the things I shared.
  1. You can provoke by ignoring them
  2. You can provoke by over-protecting them
  3. You can provoke by comparing them
  4. You can provoke by discouraging them
  5. You can provoke by abusing them

There are many other things that could be added to that list. Check out the notes for the details on each of these items.

Lie #3: If I Do Everything Right, My Children Will Follow God
There is even a Bible verse attached to this lie. Many people will be quick to quote Proverbs 22:6 as a promise from God. If they train up their child in the way he should go, then when he is old, he will not depart from it. Unfortunately, this is not a promise but a general rule. This is not 2 + 2 = 4. This leads many parents to become disheartened when their children turn away from the faith when they get older. It is almost like some parents get upset at God because they feel like God owes them the salvation of their children. They did it all right, why didn't it work out?

One of the problems with this sort of thinking is that it is so focused on us. As if we deserve the credit for how the child turns out. That could not be further from the truth. It is all of grace. If our children grow up to follow God, we should get on our knees to praise and thank God who makes it all possible.

But often, there is something else in play. Too many christian parents care more about raising their children with Christian values than they do with the gospel (check out this article as illustration). It should be our goal as parents, not that we raise our children to never watch a rated R movie, but to love Jesus. Who cares if they cannot name the top 40 songs on some secular chart, do they love Christ? Do they understand the gospel? Maybe, just maybe that happens because there are so many people in our churches today that have failed to grasp the gospel themselves. It is still a bunch of rules and regulations instead of a relationship with Jesus.

Instead of worrying about doing everything right as a parent, we should be teaching our children that we can never be right apart from Christ.

If you want to listen to the message, you can find it HERE. Or if you want to read my sermon notes, you can find them HERE.

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