VERTICAL GOALS & PRAYERFUL DEPENDENCE - Ephesians 6:1-4 tells us the goal of parenting is to bring children up "in the Lord". This means not only teaching our children to obey the Lord but to have a heart for the Lord whom they obey. The right goals for our children can be heard in David, a man after God's own heart, as he speaks to his young son Solomon on his deathbed (1 Chronicles 28:9), “"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind.” As parents, we must continue to evaluate our goals in light of the reality of God or we will be influenced by the world to go after that which is passing away. Yet, we also must remember even with the right goals, apart from the Spirit's influence upon our child's heart, our labor is in vain. We must combine right goals with prayerful dependence, Psalm 127, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”
CLOSE COMPANIONSHIP & GODLY EXAMPLE - Ephesians 6:4 tells parents to "bring children up". This means that close companionship is necessary to accomplishing the goals assigned - much talk, much time and much “tasting” together. Proverbs 27:23 says, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.” In addition Ephesians 6:4 warns us to "not provoke" our children. It is essential that we not only have close companionship with our children but that we model for our children in heart and habits, a love for God and others that is sincere. If we are controlled by angry, worry, or despair, we will only provoke rebellion rather than promote obedience and love for God. We must combine close companionship and godly example for us to be effective as biblical parents. 1 Timothy 4:16 says, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” What we will be covering in this session is more than a topic to know, but a preoccupation to live - the pursuit of godliness.
STRUCTURED ENVIRONMENT & GOD-CENTERED CONVERSATIONS - Ephesians 6:4 gives us two tools we are to use in parenting our children - "discipline" and "instruction". There is a preventative side to both of these. Parenting is not to be just about disciplining and correcting children when they do wrong, but 1) creating a disciplined environment to restrain evil influences and their sinful nature, and 2) maintaining daily God-centered conversations to nurture inward wisdom and godly affections. Parents who overlook these two preventative tools will feel like they are always "crisis-managing", and possibly lose heart and their child’s heart. Psalm 78 says, “We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.”
CONSISTENT CONSEQUENCES & GENTLE CORRECTION - There is a remedial side to the discipline we are commanded to bring our children up in according to Ephesians 6:4 So when our child sins we must respond with consistent consequences (not just gentle correction). We are by nature rebels to God (Eph 2:1-4), thus parents should expect resistance from their child at their attempts to raise them “in the Lord". Creating the best disciplined environment and maintaining the best godly conversations with our children are not enough - though essential. So what do you do when your child refuses to obey your good structure and your good counsel? Choosing right consequences helps retrain the behavior especially in the early years (Prov 13:24) and choosing right words helps persuade the heart back to God, especially in the teen years (2 Tim 2:24-26).