Is it good enough for your children to simply do what you ask? What if they have a terrible attitude? Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian parents teach their children what Christ-honoring obedience is.
Check out 5 Ways to Support TLP.
Like us on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.
Follow AMBrewster on Twitter.
Follow us on Pinterest.
Subscribe on YouTube.
Need some help? Write to us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Click "Read More" for today’s Episode Notes and Transcript.
To download this document, please right-click and select "Save Image As."
On our last episode we discussed what obedient children are supposed to do. Today we ask, “How should our children obey?” If you didn’t catch the episode, I’d start there if I were you.
But before we jump into that, I thought I’d share something interesting I discovered.
I keep a consistent eye on TLP’s podcast statistics to watch growth trends and the popularity of certain episodes, but recently I looked at a detailed analytic to which I’d never paid attention.
According to the stats, within the United States Wichita, Kansas has the highest number of downloads.
I’m honored that all of you would listen, and — moving forward — I think it may be fun to see how different cities compare over time. Perhaps — Lord willing — sometime in the future when Truth.Love.Parent. hosts its first live conference, that’s how we’ll know where to have the event.
So, here’s a question for all of you in Wichita and the surrounding areas, will you please rate and review TLP on iTunes and/or Facebook. It only takes a couple minutes, but it’s a huge blessing to us and a help to other parents who’re considering investing their time with us.
And if you’re looking for other ways to be a blessing to TLP and help us fulfill our mission to glorify God by helping parents all over the world become intentional, premeditated, disciple-making parents, then I invite you to click on “5 Ways to Support TLP” in the description below.
And for those of you who are curious which cities hold the second and third place slots, I will tell you. Charlotte, North Carolina is in second place, and Dallas, Texas is in third place. But the fine folks in Wichita have solidly doubled Dallas’ numbers. So, let’s go Dallas. You’re not going to let Kansas beat you like that are you?
Alright, that’s enough foolishness, let’s continue our discussion of biblical obedience.
I hope that some time between our last episode and now you’ve started helping your children understand true obedience.
Hopefully they can now tell you that, “Obedience is doing the right thing.”
Any time they don’t do the right thing, you can remind them of God’s expectation for obedience.
And after today you can add another important part to their definition.
2. Obedience is doing the right thing . . . in the right way.
Let’s start our discussion today by considering I Corinthians 11:27-32: “27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
Okay, so that may appear to be a strange choice for today’s study.
Here’s why I selected it:
1. The Lord’s Supper is an example of “the right thing” to do. Jesus instituted it on the night He was betrayed, but gave very little instruction concerning it save “do this in remembrance of me.”
But a number of years later the church in Corinth was abusing the ordinance. They were using it as a time of gluttony and disrespect for the latecomers. They weren’t approaching it with the requisite respect and significance necessary. So Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, basically tells them that they’ve been doing it all wrong. They may have said they were obeying by observing Communion, but since they were doing it the wrong way, there were significant consequences.
People were dying because of it.
That’s because obedience is not simply doing the right thing.
As you may expect, the Old Testament teaches this principle as well. In I Samuel 15:22, Samuel says, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”
It would have been in accordance with God’s commands if Saul had offered sacrifices to God from the spoils they took from the Amalekites. But God had specifically told them to destroy it all, so because they weren’t obeying the right way, God was not pleased. In fact, it was due to this situation that Saul had the kingdom stripped from him and his family.
It doesn’t matter if you do what you’re told if you don’t do it the right way.
Now, we know what the right things are. Everything God commands, we do. Unless a parent tells his children to disobey the commands of God, a child must obey.
But what’s the “the right way?” That seems to be a little more subjective.
Well, thankfully it’s not, and it’s shouldn’t be.
First, the Bible is very clear about the way many things in life should be done. An example from our Three Family Loves study would be the beginning of I Corinthians 13. In that passage God tells us that speaking in tongues, prophesying, and even giving ourselves up to be martyred are worthless without love.
Second, again, if a parent isn't asking her child to sin, the child needs to not only do what he was told, but also do it the way he was told. That’s obedience.
But, I’d like to give you three ways to help your children understand what you mean when you say, “do the right thing in the right way.”
It was my friend, Rand Hummel who introduced this concept to me, but I also grew up singing along to the exact same idea in Patch the Pirate.
Here’s what Rand taught his children, and I think most Christian parents either use this or something like this:
Everything you do must be done quickly, sweetly, and completely.
Let’s break these down:
1. Quickly. The idea behind this concept is that you need to do what you’re told within the time constraints given by the authority. Whether that means I want you to clean your room right now or this project needs to be completed by Thursday.
If your child gets sidetracked playing with the cat instead of cleaning his room, he didn’t obey. If your daughter doesn’t complete her project by Thursday, she didn’t obey.
I don’t have a particular passage to support this principle, but it’s biblical nonetheless. You’re not obeying if you’re told to do something now and you don’t do it now. That’s cut and dry.
I do like to joke that at least Judas obeyed when Jesus told him, “What you do, do it quickly.” Of course, Judas never truly obeyed — that will be abundantly clear later on — but unfortunately, that may have been the closest Judas ever came.
2. Sweetly. Whereas most parents attach a timeframe to their instructions, they rarely express a desire for the child’s attitude. I’m not saying there’s no expectation, but I find that too many parents seem to be fine with their child’s outward conformity in spite of the fact that the child clearly hates what he’s been told to do. This is the old example of the child who — after being told to take a seat — says, “I’m sitting on the outside, but I’m standing on the inside.”
My friends, that’s not obedience.
If your sole goal was to get your child to sit, congratulations. I hope you’re happy. But if you want your child to submit himself to God, he’s no more obeying than if he spat in your eye.
On the other side, many parents may desire a good attitude but don’t communicate what the attitude should be or how the child can develop the attitude.
So, what does it mean to obey sweetly, and how do you help your children understand and develop this sweet demeanor.
Well, I believe there are four biblical concepts that will help us and our children obey with the right attitude.
1. God commands us to be at peace. Galatians 5, Philippians 4, Matthew 5, II Timothy 2, I Thessalonians 5, Colossians 3, and so many other passages call us to the sweet soul rest of God. We did a series called “Peaceful Parenting” just from the book of Philippians. It was such a beautiful series; you can find it starting in episode 69.
But let’s consider Colossians 3:14-15 as it’s super appropriate coming out of a series on love: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
The next verse tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. If you want to help your child obey sweetly, the word of Christ is going to have to dwell richly in them. And since most of the young ones won’t be reading it and studying it and applying it on their own, you’re going to have to do that for them.
Your kids will never obey if they do not love you, and they will never sweetly do what you ask if they don’t love you.
2. God commands us to be content.
In II Corinthians 2, Paul tells us that he’s content in weakness. In I Timothy he tells us that if we have food and clothing, we need to be content. The author of Hebrews tells us to be content with whatever we have. And In Philippians 4 Paul tells us that he’s learned to be content in whatever situation he’s in. In addition, the commands to not covet and not steal and not lie all revolve around the idea of being content with what you have . . . that includes being content with your parents and what they ask of you.
The secret is found all throughout Scripture, but I like the way Hebrews 13:5 says it, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
Just like the 10 Commandments, this call to contentment is rooted in the nature and character of God. If I believe what God says, I can’t not be content.
If you’re interested in how you can help your child believe something they clearly don’t believe, please listen to The Merest Christianity series starting in episode 95.
Okay, so our children will obey sweetly if they do what they’re asked with a contented peace.
But 3, God also commands us to be joyful.
Again, Galatians 5 commands joy. But I love James 2 and think it really applies here: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” If that doesn’t describe being asked by our parents to do what we otherwise don’t want to do . . . I don’t know what does.
In fact, the trials discussed in that passage include not only the temptations that arise, but the testing of our faith that comes from the high biblical expectations of our authorities.
Mature children should one day come to the place where they’re able to count it all joy when an authority tells them to do something. I know they’re not there yet, but that’s why they have us.
4. God commands us to be thankful.
Do you remember Colossians 3:14-15 that we read earlier: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
All of these ideas: peace, contentment, joy, and gratefulness are all tied together and necessary for the others to exist.
We need to help our children obey with a content, joyful, thankful peace. That is true “sweetness.”
Okay, quick review:
And lastly, our obedience needs to be complete — Our obedience needs to be done quickly, sweetly, and completely.
When I think of complete obedience I think about Saul when he was told to wipe out the Amalekites. I also think of Achan in Joshua 7. God told the Children of Israel to destroy everything that was in Jericho, but one man took just a couple pieces of clothes and some money.
It wasn’t total, complete obedience. And not only were their consequences on Achan, there were consequences on Achan’s family, and there were consequences on Achan’s nation.
We need to stop giving our children the impression that partial obedience is true obedience.
If I tell my daughter to clean her room before she has a cookie, but she eats the cookie and goes about happily cleaning her room the way I taught her . . . she didn’t obey.
If I tell my daughter to clean her room before she has a cookie, and she quickly heads to her room and cleans it the way I’ve taught her, but she had a rotten attitude the whole time . . . she didn’t obey.
If I tell my daughter to clean her room before she has a cookie, and she runs off right away with a good attitude, but she shoves her mess into her closet so she can run back and get a cookie . . . she didn’t obey.
So, how do we help our children do the right thing in the right way?
1. Well, as usual, we need to teach them. Do your children know the high biblical expectations God has for them? Have you explained it in an age appropriate way they can understand?
If not, that’s the first step.
2. We need to remind them. The Bible is one big book of reminders. If God had said, “I’m only going to say this once and you’d all had better pay attention.” The Bible would be a lot shorter and fewer of us would be Christians. Don’t hate repetition. Understand that God has called you to be a repetitive parent.
3. We need to expect true obedience. Remember what we discussed last time — we need to know God’s Truth and be consistent with it if we’re going to parent the right way.
I know how it can feel like Gettysburg just trying to get your child to do the right thing. By the time they do it, you’re exhausted. And I’m not going to say that there aren’t times we shouldn’t simply be happy they did the right thing, celebrate the small victory, and move on.
But generally speaking, you won’t help your children by letting them have a bad attitude or by letting them redefine the commands you gave them. It’s appropriate to thank them for the good they did. My daughter struggles with quickly, sweetly, and completely equally.
So, if I asked her to clean her room and she did a good job in the right amount of time, but she had a bad attitude, you better believe I’m going to thank her for the good job she did. Children generally thrive under positive reinforcement, but it would be wrong for me to skip the reality that she was mad the whole time she cleaned.
The same thing goes for if she did it quickly with a good attitude, but didn’t do it completely.
Thank the child for what they did well, correct the wrong, and finish off by reminding him how much you love him and how God gave you to him to help your son become the man God wants him to be.
Again, these specific applications are as varied as the number of parents and children out there. If you need specific help, I encourage you to talk to your pastor or a mature, Christian friend. And you can always email us at counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Alright, obedience is doing the right thing in the right way. What’s the right way? Quickly, sweetly, and completely.
But if your children only do the right thing in the right way, are they truly obeying? What if they do what you say, the way you say it, just so they can manipulate you into giving them what they want?
I’ll just leave that question right there and invite you to join us next time for the third part of our “Teaching Your Children to Obey” series when we answer that question.
Don’t forget about our episode notes at Taking Back the Family.
And please share this episode with all your friends.
And remember that it’s God who works in your children both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
You can’t parent well by yourself. You need God. And we’re here to help too.
See you next time.
Join The TLP Family and receive email updates when we publish new articles and episodes.
Subscribe to Our Podcast