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Hey, everyone! It’s great to be back with you today.
This is the final episode of Season 19. That’s right, next week we’ll be starting Season 20 and celebrating our 5th anniversary!
When I started this podcast back in 2016, I never imagined we would be here doing what we’re doing. We’re going to talk about this more in later episodes, but I never want to miss the chance to praise God for bringing us this far.
And speaking of exciting life events, I just want to praise my kids here for a second. As of this school year, they are both high school juniors, and the Lord has provided them an opportunity to take their first online dual credit college course.
They are taking New Testament Literature and Interpretation from Bob Jones University, and — once again — my wife and I are so proud of them.
If you’d like to learn more about Bob Jones University — and, no, this is not a paid advertisement — you can check out BJU.edu, but you can also listen to an interview I did with Steve Pettiit, the university president.
The interview was called “The Future of Christian Families and Higher Education,” and you can find a link for it in the description of this episode. That show was part of “The Family and Education” series which you can also find in the description.
That link will take you to our blog, Taking Back the Family, where you will also be able to find today’s free episode notes and transcript.
And — with that — let’s talk about the most optimal goal of your parenting.
I’m keeping today’s episode short, but I don’t want any of us to think that that means the concept isn’t as important.
It’s excessively important, it’s just pretty easy to grasp. The hardest part will be accepting the counter-intuitive nature of it, but — once you’ve done that — it’s really a no brainer.
Okay, so we know that Deuteronomy 6 commands us to diligently teach our children the fundamentals of God.
We discuss this in much more detail in “Christian Parenting 101,” “Where in Your House is God Not Allowed?” and one of our recent episodes “Every Lesson You Need to Teach Your Kids.”
Suffice it to say, we’re supposed to be so diligent in this endeavor that it’s as if we’re always talking about the things of God: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
When you take that lesson and combine it with our “Four Children” series you end up with a really astounding conclusion.
The Four Children was specifically about how children respond to Truth and how you can parent each of the unique responses. Generally speaking, we looked to the life of Christ to see how He spoke to people with each of the four hearts.
But, just like the Deuteronomy passage, we’re left with the impression that there is never a good time to stop casting the Truth-seed onto the soil of our children’s hearts.
Just imagine that: “Yeah, this isn’t an important time to speak Truth to my kids.”
Then you have “The Rock, The Bread, and The Donut” which deals with why we give our kids things. Now couple that with the biblical inunction to pray without ceasing and Christ’s repeated commands to work diligently and use our time wisely for the kingdom of God. And when you think about the practical applications of “The Communication House” . . . and — if you’re honest with yourself — you’re presented with a lofty — admittedly daunting — and yet divinely decreed calling.
We must always be speaking God’s Truth to our kids.
Now, this is counter-intuitive primarily because we imagine that so much of our parenting seems so completely detached from all things spiritual. Potty-training, report cards, drivers-ed, meals, chores, soccer games, bed time, playing Uno, and the plethora of — can I say it — “earthly things” would have us believe that the spiritual stuff is somehow foreign in those categories.
But I think that’s a gigantic lie of Satan.
I believe that Deuteronomy 6 — which is just one passage of the many that leave us with the impression that the Truth of God should ever be on our lips — I believe all of these passages are setting the high biblical expectation that we constantly speak the language of heaven.
Now, I want you to really marinate on this. Let the language metaphor sink in. Many of you speak a language other than English in your house. But I bet many of you also have children who don’t eat their dinner the way they should. That means that in my house, as well as yours, we’re talking to our children about the same things, even though we’re using a different language.
Now, let’s redeem this illustration.
Can you admonish your kids to eat their food without mentioning God, His Word, or His expectations? Of course you can.
But why would you?
What’s the point?
If Romans 11:36 is right (and it is), then “from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.”
And if Colossians 1:16-18 is true (which it is), then “For by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through [Christ] and for [Christ]. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
And if I Corinthians 10:31 is true (which it is), then “whether [we] eat or drink, or whatever [we] do, do all to the glory of God.”
Then all of this means that it’s a legitimate expectation that all of our conversations and lectures and discussions and sharing times have their root deep in the things of God.
So, based off that reality, I want to flesh this out practically.
1. We waste our parenting when it’s rooted in something other than God and His Truth.
Now, that doesn’t mean we always have to quote Scripture and cite catechisms and speak on theological things. But there are three levels to this:
A. All of our parenting must be motivated by a desire to glorify God.
This will demand that not only our motivation, but also our methods be Scriptural. This can be as simple as wanting our children to play kindly on their game system.
But, don’t fool yourself. Just because you use words like “kind” and “nice” doesn’t mean your children are understanding the expectation that they obey God for His glory. You’re going to have to explain to your children Who God is and what His expectations are and what those look like in our lives and how to have a relationship with Him in order for them to have a proper understanding of biblical kindness.
Once you’ve laid that foundation, you won’t have to touch back to it every time, but the more you do the better.
That’s why . . .
B. There’s really no reason most of our teaching and training shouldn’t intentionally speak of God and His Word.
Remember, do we really want our kids obeying us out of fear of us? Do we want them worshipping us? If not, then we need to motivate their obedience correctly — in a relationship with God.
C. However all of our reproof and counsel needs to be infused with biblical Truth.
I can’t persuade my children that they’ve sinned without referencing the Bible, and I can’t provide them good counsel for how to stop sinning and how to start being righteous without it.
“But Aaron, what about those silly times when my kids and I are just playing, or when we’re talking about the events of the day?”
The events of the day are easy times to point out God’s goodness and provision and instruction and patience. But — I admit — the being silly probably isn’t going to be filled with biblical instruction.
However, I hope you’re being silly with your kids because you want to glorify God. If so, then you’re doing number 1: All of our parenting must be motivated by a desire to glorify God. This will demand that not only our motivation but also our methods be Scriptural.
The main point is that we have to be intentional about this. It’s too easy to waste our parenting. We can go entire days without talking about God and His Expectations. In fact, we often only bring Him up when our child is in trouble. Talk about sending wrong messages.
And finally . . .
2. We risk wasting our parenting when we don’t draw our children to a decision.
In “The Parent’s 5 Jobs” we talk a lot about teaching. Bad teaching won’t include God. Okay teaching will talk about God. Good teaching will make sure the child understands God’s expectations. But the best teaching will help our children apply what they’ve learned about God.
In our “Teach Your Child to Learn” series we walked through the Circle of Learning. True learning only takes place when the child learns the facts, understands them, and then uses them in life.
That last step is what the Bible calls wisdom.
So, let’s put all of this together in an example.
I’m teaching my child bathtub behavior or curfew or whatever, or I’m confronting my child about disobeying the bathtub rules or breaking curfew or whatever. Apply the illustration as necessary.
1. I want to help my child have the right motivation for their obedience.
If obedience is doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason in the right power, I have to make sure I teach them the right motivation. That absolutely must include Who God is and what His expectation is for my obedience.
2. I want to make sure my child understands my expectations and how they align with God’s expectations.
I do this through questions. I can role play. I can have them explain it back to me or even teach it to a sibling.
This is an absolutely vital role that too many of us parents skip. Don’t believe the lie that just because you said it, your kids understand it.
3. Then I need to help them understand how they can apply the Truth they’ve learned.
This is the practical application. If this is the reproving stage after a child has sinned, this must include leading them to an apology and repentance.
And all of this is driving to one main idea:
4. I need to draw my children to a place where they either accept or reject the Truth.
Too often we parent by throwing out dictates. We lecture or ramble on, and we walk away assuming they’re completely on page with us. I’m not sure why we do it. I don’t know if it’s arrogance or delusion. It didn’t work that way when our parents lectured us.
Anyway, this is the point of today’s episode. This is the point to which we should get with our kids. This is the highest goal of our parenting.
So, I’ve taught my child what I expect from them in the bathtub. I’ve made sure they understand the expectations and can practically work it out.
And then I can — and it will sound different in nearly every situation — I can call them to respond to the Truth they heard.
“Are you going to obey Daddy?”
“Do you believe taking a bath this way will glorify God?”
Now, let’s apply this to the breaking curfew.
A week ago you had this conversation with your son. You explained the biblical expectations for curfew, you verified that he completely understood the importance of glorifying God in his obedience and that he practically could step through how to get home on time and what to do in an emergency situation.
But then you also called him to accept or reject the fact that obeying curfew was a realistic way that he could glorify God. He agreed that it was, and the two of you discussed the implications for a short time.
Now, he’s late. He has no legitimate excuse.
Now, it’s not just: “You didn’t do what I said.”
Now, it’s: “You didn’t please the Lord.”
The implications will be completely unavoidable. Only a delusional child would argue with the consequences. Now, he may be delusional, and there are other parenting strategies for that, but I cannot tell you how this realization has lifted a massive burden off my parenting. This is on-boarding at it’s best.
This one step of verifying that your child has accepted what you have taught them has potentially given you a glimpse into their hearts as well as made it very hard for them to argue in the event they break the rule in the future.
They’ve totally agreed with you that God’s and your expectations are right and good and acceptable and that — if they don’t obey — they’re sinning against their Creator. It’s really hard to say that one minute and deny it the next.
And, if they do — again — you know your child’s heart that much better.
I’m inviting you to parent with intelligence.
God expects us to parent in His Word. We need to use our Parenting Bibles even when we’re instructing our kids in the simple things of life like tying shoes and doing math.
And then we need to purposefully and clearly invite our children to accept or reject that Truth.
It’s one simple step that can empower our parenting in amazing ways.
Parent your child to glorify God.
While doing so, you will likely rely heavily on biblical principles or direct commands.
Many times you need to root your parenting in the explicit character of God.
Be sure they understand it.
Help them know how to really apply it in their lives.
And then bring them to the whole point of the conversation: ask them if they truly believe what you’ve shown them. Call them to verbally accept or reject what you’ve discussed.
When you do so, you see their heart, you get their buy-in, and you make parenting through their disobedience that much easier because they already understand the implications of their sin.
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