God wants your children to obey you because it pleases Him and blesses them. For example, here is the direction from a parent who has taught this concept to her child.
“Joshua, take the garbage out now, please.”
“Sure, Mom, no problem.”
Joshua’s mom expects to be obeyed. She doesn’t ask Joshua a question, she gives him clear, pleasant direction. She doesn’t whine or plead or bargain or threaten. She speaks directly but pleasantly. Joshua knows exactly what she wants him to do and when. Joshua has been trained to understand that obeying his parents is doing exactly what he is told, right away, with a good attitude.
Joshua’s response is not one that came naturally to him. He is not just a “good kid.” He had to be taught. His parents trained him to respond this way. When he was younger, Josh’s parents taught him that he must obey his parents because the Bible says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). They taught him that obeying his parents was obeying God.
Joshua was taught that when he is given a command by his parents, the response that pleases God is a pleasant affirmative. He learned Philippians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, . . . .” So, Josh was taught to answer a command with “Sure, Mom, I’d be happy to,” or something similar.
The results speak for themselves. A child who obeys promptly and pleasantly is a pleasure to be around. No one argues with that. But the big question is—how? How do I teach my child to obey like that?
Godly obedience begins with teaching children a basic worldview. For children a biblical worldview can be expressed this way.
“God made everything. He made you. God is in charge of everything and we must obey Him.” That’s just the beginning, but, at a child’s level, it is the basis for obedience.
Biblical wisdom brings life. Following God’s ways brings life. This is the enormous benefit of obedience. Josh learned early that only Christ could give him the strength to obey with a joyful heart. When Joshua was learning to trust God this way, there were many rocky moments. However, discipline was lovingly applied and Joshua was encouraged with pleasant, not harsh, instruction.
So now, at age eight, Joshua responds with something like, “Sure, I’d be happy to, no problem,” when he is given a command or directive. When he doesn’t, he is lovingly and firmly disciplined by his parents. But even when that has to happen, his underlying attitude is based on the God-given knowledge that “understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it.” He is not a “perfect little angel.” He is still an active, rowdy, eight-year-old boy. But even a child can possess genuine biblical wisdom and insight when he has been taught God’s ways consistently, and when he has learned to obey his parents in the Lord.