â€œHonor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.â€Â Â Â Â Exodus 20:12 (WEB
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother,â€ which is the first commandment with a promise: â€œthat it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.â€ Â Â Â Ephesians 6:1-3 (WEB)
How quick I was to teach my children this commandment! I do not make light of the importance of teaching children all the commandments. But could it be that the commands about loving God and honoring God were put first for a reason? Am I to be teaching my children about honoring their parents by setting the example of how I honor my Heavenly Father?
Fathers, [and mothers!] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.Â Â Â Â Â Colossians 3:21 (NIV)
And this verse is not so often quoted, is it? Again, do I look at how my Heavenly Father sets the example of how to be a parent?
Parenting is not for weenies! Once that child is conceived or comes into your life however God makes it happen, it is a 24/7 ministry for the rest of your life. It is prayer, prayer, prayer. And it doesnâ€™t stop when the child is 18 or 21. Your prayer life increases as the child grows older.
Early on we teach children the basics. Things like parameters and consequences for their actions. Teaching a two-year-old that a hot stove hurts is teaching a consequence. A 12-year-old learns that if she doesnâ€™t study and/or do homework and brings home a â€œCâ€ instead of the â€œAâ€ or â€œBâ€ she was capable of getting, then there isnâ€™t movie night or a sleepover or both. Learning consequences at two and twelve is better than not having learned it at 22. My Father does the same thing. He starts out small with consequences but then when I make the conscience decision to do something my way instead of His way â€“ there is a consequence and I do not get the blessings I could have had. Do I share the consequences that I learn from my Father or do I pretend that I always have it together and always have the right answers? Do my children see and hear me turn to God for answers? â€œJames, I am so mad right now. Go to your room and I am going to go talk to God. When I calm down and hear what I need, I will call you and we will talk.â€
When children are grown and out on their own and/or married, as a parent my prayer life really ramps up! My teaching them as a did when they were children is over. It is now time for the Holy Spirit to speak to them.
Children do not always have good examples. Sometimes parental examples come through people who are not biological parents. Sometimes the examples are negative examples. I can learn from my own parentsâ€™ mistakes. Children, donâ€™t beat your parents up because they werenâ€™t perfect! Learn from their mistakes and donâ€™t do the same with your own children! Allow God to teach you what a good parent truly is!
Finally, raising children up in the truth of my faith and dependence on Jesus is my most important ministry. I can give and give to thousands of others but God holds me responsible for what I give to my children first. How it turns out â€“ God gets all the glory for it â€“ however it is. God never gave up on me. He loves me. As much as I love my children â€“ God will always love them more!