Why your child should still obey your imperfect authority

Parental authority has fallen on hard times! Authority is seen as something to question, not respect. Unlike our culture, however, the Bible makes a big deal about obeying parents. The Holy Spirit does this from two different perspectives. One is blessing. If children obey their parents as Ephesians instructs, they will be blessed and do well in life on the earth. In contrast in Romans, being disobedient to parents is included on a list of sins that indicates intense hatred of God. This list includes sexual perversions, inventors of evil, and murders!

Indifference to your authority is indifference to God. Your child’s well being is directly connected to his obedience to you! This may seem a bit unfair since your direction is not always fair or just. But that is just the point. Your authority is derived from God! Your authority is not given to you because you have earned the right to be obeyed or because you are perfect. It is given to you because of God’s choice. Your authority is not given to you because you have earned the right to be obeyed or because you are perfect.

Each day you set before your children the choice of life and death. Deuteronomy 30 urges you and your children to choose life over death. Disobedience to your commands leads ultimately to death and hatred of God. Let that sink in! Not obeying your direction is an immediate frustration and discouragement. But there is a much larger concern than the immediate behavioral problem. You must also be concerned with the life-long implications of your children’s disobedience. Because your authority is given by God, failure to honor you is a failure to honor God.

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Hold out the choice of life to your children. In humility, seek God’s grace to help your children value trusting and obeying God as they obey you.

How do you do this in a way that is effective and building for your kids? You follow God’s directions to use pleasant words, to avoid anger, and by consistently making the gospel the centerpiece of your parenting. Follow the path of love laid out in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 — be patient, kind and not easily angered. Don’t allow anger and irritation to dominate your parenting.

You must be open with your children about your failures as a parent. God has called your children to honor imperfect parents. This is important! This truth means that you must be in awe of the job God has given you to hold out life to your children. Grace and humility must become the hallmarks of your parenting. This same truth is significant for your children. Obeying you, even when you are not perfect, shows respect for God that will guide and protect your children for the rest of their lives.

Parents, don’t make the tragic mistake of encouraging your children to be like you. Rather, in love, lead them to the place where you want to go: to the cross.

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This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission. 


Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.


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