Family and Parenting in God’s Design

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”  Proverbs 24:3-4

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain…Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalm 127:1a, 3-5a

“Marriage and family…both the building blocks, and a reflection, of Christ’s Church.”

My prayer and my hope above all else, is to encourage everyone, but especially those who call Christ Lord, to recognize God’s Divine Covenant order from Creation to Christ’s return. I pray that you’ll be willing, as His disciples, to live it out first in your marriages and families in order to strengthen His Church and build His Kingdom accordingly.

The Love & Lordship message is what The Lord has laid on my heart, and I’ve been sharing it for over 25 years. It has helped hundreds, if not thousands, to walk in His Divine order, see the blessing in their lives and homes, and be a blessing in His Church and beyond.  His design, plan, and purpose from Genesis to Revelation begins with marriage in the Home.

Dennis Rainey, founder of FamilyLife (along with his wife, Barbara), one of the best marriage and family organizations in the world today, said this, “Every family is a little church.” Marriage is certainly implied and intended in his quote. In line with God’s Word and order, if we are not doing the job in our little churches (marriages and families), then it matters little how much we’re doing in our “big” churches.

God is faithful to use our sincere efforts but if we will follow His design of loving relationships in marriage and family, I believe He has much more in store for our lives and can and will use us to ignite His Church and impact a lost and dying world!

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened, and maintained.”  — Winston Churchill

We’ve heard over and over again that youth are leaving the church and their faith when they go off to college and the stats somewhat bear this out, although there are some that return during and after the college years. Ken Ham, founder of The Creation Museum, Answers in Genesis, and The Ark Encounter wrote a book entitled, Already Gone, in which he postulates with some research, that most of our youth are checking out mentally and spiritually in their early teens and middle school years. They simply continue to attend church as parents have the car keys, wallets and final say. It just becomes evident when they are out on their own, i.e., college years.

He goes on to say, “‘Church’ today is mostly driven by man-made traditions and not by the biblical mandates to defend the Word of God and live by the Word of God.”

In God’s design and mandate, discipleship is to begin in the home and the church benefits and is stronger when this happens. When it’s not happening, there’s not enough “church” to overcome what is lacking in the home.

Since God is our perfect Heavenly Father, we would be wise to seek His counsel for good parenting. It is very clear in His Word what He expects of us as parents…

1) Parents are the primary and priority disciplers and educators of their children. In Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Moses gathers the leaders of all the tribes, clans and families (fathers and grandfathers) to share the most important things that God wanted them to know and be sure to impress on future generations (vv. 1-3) as they went in to possess the Promised Land. Right on the verge of receiving all that God had promised their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—here are the four things that were of paramount importance (the first two will sound very familiar):

A. God is the One and Only True God – worship only Him (v. 4)

B. Love God with all you are (v. 5)

C. The laws and commands (disciplines) that I will give you – make sure that you teach them to your children – post them and teach them everywhere and at all times (vv. 6-9)

D. Live a life of gratitude in all things – never forget God’s goodness (vv. 10-12)

Parents, we are to take the first and priority responsibility for training up our children—not the school and their teachers, not the government, not coaches, not even pastors or ministers. All of these can play a role and help, but we must make sure that what is being taught and caught begins and ends with us and is in line with God’s Word and commands!

2) Discipling and educating our children requires our time and effort to know and train them.

We find in both the Old and New Testaments what is required of parents. Most are familiar with Proverbs 22:6 (NASB) which states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is echoed in Ephesians 6:4 (NASB), again with the fathers as the focal point of this command: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Allow me to clarify.

There is an ancient proverb that reads, “Bend a tree when it is young.” This is an excellent interpretation and explanation of Proverbs 22:6 for two reasons. First of all, bending a tree requires ongoing attention and effort just as children do. You can’t just bend it once and expect it to stay in place. The same is true with children, as is strongly implied in the Hebrew text.

As parents we must take the time to get to know them, their personality, strengths and weaknesses, and teach and train them in character consistently over time and be there to help them navigate the struggles and trials. This can’t be done with occasional gifts of time, money, or stuff. It requires our time and presence.

One of the greatest deceptions from the pits of hell is, “Quality time equals quantity time.” Fathers or parents who have fallen for that lie have damaged many a child! One of the greatest recipes for rebellion is to give the disciplines or guidelines for developing character and then be a father or parent who does not walk in the integrity of those disciplines and/or only shows up to reward or punish as it is called for. Far too many children have been the victims of parents who come home from work or the road only to administer punishment and demand obedience without being present to model that behavior or build a relationship. Rules minus relationships = rebellion!

Parents, train your children to walk in the way they should go by first walking that path yourself.

Monte Wilkinson, Lead Minister at Northeast Christian Church, Lexington, KY, was in our wedding and I consider him a good friend. He shared a wonderful maxim with me when he found out we were expecting our first child: “Children are the greatest blessing and greatest burden all rolled into one.” I not only found this to be true but have elaborated on it with many in my conferences and counseling. God’s Word declares that children are a reward or heritage from The Lord (Psalm 127). If we only see the burden, then we miss the joys of His blessing to us. Scripture also declares that there is a burden in the responsibility of training them up in The Lord (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). If we only looking for blessings, then we miss the lessons and needed pruning in our lives and in our children’s as well.

Let me share with you five ways that we can exasperate or frustrate our children and later I’ll give some insights as to how we can build them up, beyond being careful and reversing the following…

5 Ways Parents Frustrate Their Children:

  • 1) Hover over everything they do; make every decision for them
  • 2) Enforce a lot of rules without building a relationship
  • 3) Play the comparison game – compare them to siblings/others
  • 4) Pay minimal attention or listen to your children
  • 5) Make your love conditional…children spot this very quickly

Our third point from Scripture in the priorities and commitments we must make to parent our children in The Lord is as follows…

3) The message from God’s Word is that parenting must begin and continue with us in our families and not be abdicated to the church, school, or any other place. Integrity in life, marriage, and parenting makes for authenticity and walking in the True Authority that we have been given in Christ!

I can’t tell you how many times parents have talked with me about their teen and adult children rebelling and walking away from the faith. They tell their parents that they either wanted nothing to do with the faith and love that they saw in their parent’s marriage, or they could see that their parents didn’t love each other and they wanted nothing to do with that.

Trust in God and His Word to help you model and disciple your children as the parents God has called you to be.

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Let’s be faithful to God’s Word and to His Covenant Order and the responsibility to train up our children in the way they should go…and let’s be the ones that model it and teach it first and foremost (Proverbs 20:7). Churches, pastors, youth ministers, schools, teachers, coaches can all help but we are first responsible and held accountable to disciple our children in Christ! (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4)

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article. Ask The Holy Spirit to reveal where you are in parenting your children.
  2. List ways you model the character/integrity you want to see in your children.
  3. List the things you want to change in yourself and in your parenting. 
  4. Discuss how your marriage impacts your parenting and family.