"Be consistent. Follow through. Be diligent. Don't give up." Most of us have probably been told one (or all!) of the above in relation to parenting. We know we're supposed to be consistent and thorough. But how do we go about doing it, exactly?
Even if you know what Biblical parenting is, it may not be as easy to figure out how to implement it. It wasn't for me, anyway. I knew that the Bible commands parents to train up their children in the admonition of the Lord, but I wasn't sure how to do that.
It took a lot of prayer, reading God's Word, talking with Jon and other mature Christian parents, and consuming Biblical parenting books before I started to truly understand how to implement Biblical parenting. Now that I have a clearer picture of what God' Word teaches about parenting, I want to share several keys for implementing and following through with Biblical parenting.
3 keys to help you implement Biblical parenting:
- Require immediate obedience
- Require complete obedience
- Require a good attitude
"Obey right away, all the way, with a happy heart" is a popular saying among Christian parents today. It sums up pretty well the things we hope to teach our children, and all three points come right from God's Word.
Require immediate obedience
The Lord requires immediate obedience. We see this over and over in the Old Testament when God led His chosen people Israel to the Promised Land. If God is that serious about immediate obedience, we as parents should be serious about it, too. After all, our goal in Biblical parenting is to help train our children to be sensitive to the Lord's leading, so this is a perfect place to start doing just that.
Require complete obedience
Not only does God require immediate obedience, but He also expects complete obedience. King Saul lost the kingship when he didn't fully obey God's command to put all of the Amalakites to death! Partial obedience is disobedience, so we need to train little ones how to obey fully.
Require a good attitude
The Lord longs for us to have good attitudes. "Rejoice always...in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thes. 5:16, 18). Keeping a good attitude is not easy, but we are commanded to do it. So, again, we need to train our kids to have good attitudes even when they have to do things they may not like. Most children aren't born with a love for picking up, but we can teach them to have a good attitude even when they'd rather be doing something else.
While having well-behaved children might be a perk of Biblical parenting, it should never be the sole objective. Does that sound weird to you? If so, let me explain. The greatest objective of Biblical parenting is to teach children to be sensitive to God's Word. And the way we do that is by requiring immediate and complete obedience, coupled with a good attitude.
Teaching our kids to obey right away, all the way, and with a happy heart is a great goal, but we still haven't really addressed how to do this. Again, there are three keys for teaching them.
3 keys to help you follow through with Biblical parenting:
- Use a motivating consequence
- Reward obedience
- Set a Godly example
Use a motivating consequence
Using a motivating consequence isn't a popular choice in today's parenting strategies. But God's Word - specifically, Proverbs - is very clear that Biblical parenting involves consequences for actions, specifically negative correction for disobedience. A few things I've learned over the years: the consequence should be quick and fitting.
The goal for negative reinforcement should be immediate repentance. Because sin and disobedience break fellowship with the Lord (this is true for adults as well as children), it also breaks fellowship with other believers. So, when a child disobeys, he injures his relationship with God and with his parents. Because repentance can restore those relationships, we want our kids to repent as quickly as possible.
Note: remember that the child's disobedience, not the parents' subsequent punishment, is what breaks fellowship. If we choose not to properly punish our children's sin, we as parents are disobeying God's direct commandment and are in sin ourselves.
Rewarding obedience is the other half of using motivating consequences. The Lord rewarded those who obeyed Him: Abraham was given the Covenant; Joshua was allowed to enter the Promised Land; and David was given the kingdom - all for their faithfulness. When our children are obedient, we need to reward them. Sometimes the rewards can be big, but many times just a simple hug or word of affirmation does the most good.
Set a Godly example
Above all else, the greatest thing we can do for our children is to set a Godly example for them to follow. We need to live in such a way that our kids see us obeying the Lord right away, all the way, and with a joyful spirit. And when we sin by not doing one of those things, our littles need to see us repenting before God.
Even though Jon and I have learned a lot about Biblical parenting and now have many years of parenting under our belts, that doesn't mean we always lead our kids in a Christ-honoring way. We're both still very human and still very prone to our own sin natures. My point for writing this post is NOT to say that we've got everything down perfectly or that you need to do exactly what we do in your parenting efforts. My hope is to share with you the Biblical guidelines that we follow to offer encouragement and clarity as you raise your own little ones.
There is so much that goes into Biblical parenting, but the Bible really does give us clear-cut advice on how to raise our children in a way that pleases Him. We are to require immediate, complete obedience and a good attitude. We can motive our children with negative consequences, positive reward, and Godly examples to follow.
And we can do all of this with Micah 6:8 in mind: "He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" If we keep this verse at the forefront of our minds as we parent out little ones, we can be confident that we are raising our kids the way the Lord wants us to.