Summary: Sermon Series by Dr. Tim Pollock
When youth move into adulthood with high Christian values, they get a head start in life and will thankfully escape many pitfalls! Parents can’t make children have character. They can, however, provide the framework for positive growth by taking advantage of an infallible textbook – the Bible. It is God’s plan for children to respectfully honor and listen to their elders, parents and those in authority.
Some would object to Solomon’s negative words about some children’s character, “Wait, are you saying that some children are wise and some are foolish?” Scripture points out that, indeed, some behavior is good and some is unacceptable. There is really no other way to say it. Modern parenting doesn’t always recognize this difference. All too often they say that children are not foolish or sinful, just individuals. They wrongly surmise that unbiblical behavior is just their child’s unique “style” and since that’s their “style”, we should let them express it. If they want to color outside the lines, then let’s let them do it. Biblical parenting says, “No, here’s the plan you’re going to adapt to”, and those that follow that are called wise children, and those that constantly resist are called, “scorners.”
Let me point out very clearly that we’re not talking about personality differences. When scripture speaks about a foolish person, it is not casting a bad light on their innate qualities being deficient. What it is speaking of is their moral fiber or character. There’s a difference between personality and character – personality is largely inherited, character is largely developed.
How to Develop Respectful Children and Youth:
1. Teach Children to Hear and not Just Listen
The scripture uses the term hearing as we might use the word listening. Sometimes we hear the audible sounds, but we’re not really letting truth sink in. No child automatically obeys. No youth automatically respects and honors authority or their parents. Disrespect is perhaps the most ancient of sins. Respect is certainly the most contrary character trait to try and teach. Disrespect is Satan’s sin. He said, “I will not honor, I will not respect and I will not submit myself to God.” And with that same attitude, the devil counseled Eve, “Do not submit to God. He doesn’t really want your good, He knows if you eat of that fruit then you’re going to be as wise as He is.” Satan’s plan is to influence each one of us to rebel against our authorities.
As parents, we must insist upon total allegiance, respect and honor for authority. It is vital for the welfare of our home, our nation, and for the child. Romans 13:1-4 says that our “powers” (authorities) are established by God and are there for our good. If I don’t teach my sons and daughters respect for human authority, then I fail to prepare them for divine authority. When children read the Bible and it tells them that they are sinful and they need to be saved, a humble heart will repent and say, “it’s true!”
How do we teach and help sons and daughters move past just listening and move into really hearing? It all starts with obedience. Requiring obedience is using an outward means to initiate a potential inward pattern. Some might object and say, “If it doesn’t come from the heart then it’s not useful.” This is not necessarily true according to Proverbs 16:3. Wise old Solomon said that if we would first “commit our works to the Lord then our thoughts would be established.” Actions often precede a heart attitude. The goal, of course, is to raise-up sons and daughters who have such wonderful devotion and honor that they don’t have to be held in check with an external bridle, as it would come from their own heart. That they would have a deep desire to do what mom and dad says and “stand alone” for righteousness.
When our children were growing up we would practice a “listening game.” Sometimes it was good-natured and at other times it was somewhat punitive. I would say to my 3-year-old for example, “Ok, I want to see if you can obey exactly what I say - alright, sit down, now stand up, now walk to the wall, turn around, hop on one foot, sit up.” Up and then down, over and over for maybe five minutes or so, until the point drilled into their head. This point was that it is no laughing matter to not obey your father or mother to the T. They need to know that absolutely, 100% of the time, they have to obey everything that is said.
2. Respond Appropriately to Sons and Daughters Actions
“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1).
According to this verse, a wise child gets instruction. But what does a scorner get? Rebuke. Parents must respond appropriately to children’s attitudes and actions. The word “instruction” in this verse is translated in the Hebrew Bible as doctrine. A wise son hears his father’s doctrine (or teaching). The father says for example, “We’re going to split some wood and I don’t want you to get hurt. Take this wedge and hold it thusly and then you’re going to set it on this wood block, etc.” The father watches his son, and if he starts to do something that’s unsafe, he may have to sharply say, “Stop now…don’t do it that way!” If the child is wise and receptive, the communication will be instructive. On the contrary, when you have someone who will not listen, then they will get rebuke and the level of correction steps up.