Will My Children Ever Do What I Say?
If you are a mom with young children, your heart probably jumped with excitement when you saw this topic. You If probably thought, “Finally! Someone is going to share wisdom and experience in wrangling these dearly loved, but wayward offspring of mine!”
If you are a mom of teenagers or young adults, you probably smiled when you saw this topic and felt a pang of compassion for the mom of young children who jumped to read this post. You know what many experienced moms know: the control we think we have when our children are young is all an illusion.
Sure, with persistence, patience, and prayer, we can instill self-control in our children. We can even achieve a reasonable level of happy obedience, but none of that matters if we fail to reach their heart. And unfortunately, it’s a tough balancing act to reach their heart. If we stay too insulated in the Christian community, we violate God’s word in John 17:15.
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one." -John 17:15
We are supposed to teach our children how to be in the world, so they can eventually become a light to others. And yet, if we leave them in the world, they are bombarded them with temptations that are extremely attractive to their young, impressionable minds. It starts with shinier and newer toys for the preschooler, interesting backpacks, lunch boxes, and gizmos for elementary school kids, and cell phones, i-pads, and social media accounts for the middle schooler. By the time our kids are 14 and entering high school, peer pressure tempts them to follow the crowd so they will fit in and belong. If they resist these things, they risk being labeled, “different”, a struggle every teen deeply hopes to avoid.
I can feel your discouragement, disappointment, and even your dissent. There must be a way to reach their heart, you’re thinking! I’ve seen happy, obedient kids! Plus, Jesus commanded us to make disciples for the kingdom. That involves reaching hearts!
Yes, we are called to make disciples, and as parents, we have the upper hand to influence the hearts of our children, thereby impacting both their willingness to obey and the way they should go spiritually. We do that by planting seeds and eventually sharing the gospel with them, but like anything, the most effective changes are caught, not taught. Despite the endless Bible stories, the weekly church attendance, the youth groups, scripture memorization, and worship music played, the most effective discipleship tool we have in our toolbox is modeling our own faith.
When we live out our own faith in Jesus, we shape the hearts of our children more effectively than any other action we take. And when we captivate their heart, we acquire their obedience.
Now you’re nodding along and maybe feeling good about yourself! But let me challenge you in areas where I’ve been challenged.
How many of you, when you argue with your husband, first pray, listen, and surrender to God’s will for that dispute? How many of you, when your children come home with a problem from school, first pray with your child and trust God before approaching their teacher? Who in this room, when your child veers in a direction you don’t like in their teen or young adult years, quietly takes your concern to Jesus instead of doing everything in your power to force your child onto the path you want for them?
These are hard situations, and they challenge our desire to be in control and to protect and provide for our children. But investing in our own faith and growing in maturity ourselves is the most effective tool in teaching our kids not only to obey us, but to change their hearts so they also obey Jesus. If they see Jesus as loving, with their best interest in mind, trustworthy, powerful, and worthy of pleasing, their obedience to you will fall in line naturally.
In addition to pursuing our own faith, we can model Jesus’ behavior when it comes to disciplining our children. Jesus is long suffering. He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but unwearyingly waiting for all to be saved. It takes time to shape our kids’ hearts, and this should be no surprise. It took time for God to shape our hearts, but he was long suffering, willing to wait for as long as it took.
Finally, we need to be consistent in our discipline. Jesus gave us the ten commandments close to 4000 years ago, and he stuck to those. The only change he made was when he arrived in human form, and he added the commandment to love one another, but even that was just a summary of the initial ten commandments that He issued thousands of years ago. Jesus consistently sent prophets telling us to turn back to Him and toward the ten commandments. We must follow his example and be consistent with the discipline we dole out to our children.
So how do we get our children to “do as I say?”
1. We live out our own faith
2. We set our expectations that we may need to be long suffering, and
3. We follow Jesus’ model to be consistent with our discipline.
We don’t want to create perfectly well-behaved robots. We want to partner with the Holy Spirit to create disciples of Jesus. If we do that, not only will we reap the rewards of obedient children, but we will also later delight in their impact on the world around them. And not only will they, “do what you say”, they will be obedient to do what Jesus says. You will have modeled how to faithfully follow the ultimate authority figure to them, and that will serve them well when they start to outgrow your responsible care and go out into the world.
At MomQ we believe that motherhood is a calling from God. While it is both a privilege and an honor, it is by no means easy! Moms have a lot of questions/concerns and need caring support along their journey. Whether you are a brand new mom or a little more seasoned, MomQ is here to help you fulfill your God given role. Don’t see a group in your area? Contact us today about starting one in your community!
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