Biblical parenting is an exercise in faith. This fact makes biblical parenting different from every other parenting methodology. A journey of faith cannot always be accurately measured by visible markers. Other forms of parenting are measured by evaluating immediate responses—if the behavior doesn’t change quickly, then something must be wrong. Thankfully, God calls us to trust him in faith. In biblical parenting, the primary objective is not to simply change behavior but to bring about a change in heart that leads to repentance, which leads to faith in Christ. This, of course, will result in a change in behavior. But behavioral change cannot be the primary goal.
Parental instruction focuses on the commands of God, not with the behavior of children. Deuteronomy commands that children be taught about the things of God at all times during the day, not just when discipline needs to be administered. Parents are to bring the wonder of God to every corner of life. Ephesians picks up on this perspective in verses 1-4 of chapter 6. This teaches us that parental instruction begins with the commands of God, not with the behavior of children. This means biblical parenting is proactive, not reactive.
Biblical parenting assumes that there are absolutes that must be taught. Practically, this tells us that children must be disciplined to conform to God’s direction. The child is ultimately accountable to God to live in a way that brings honor and blessing to their lives. It follows that children do not have the option of deciding that they won’t or can’t obey. But this is exactly the point of tension! Children, especially teenagers, do believe they can choose to do what they want over their parents’ directives. Increasingly, the culture around us has shifted to favor children’s choice over parental authority.
The response to this shift in culture must be one of faith. Ephesians 6:4 directs that children must be brought up in the discipline, nurture, and instruction of the Lord. Stability in parenting comes from asking this question, what is it that God has commanded for my children’s good? This means that discipline must be carried out in faith that nourishes your children. Disobedience is not so much an offense to parents as it is an indication that a child is walking in ways that are harmful to him. It is the parent’s calling to lead their children, by faith, to obedience for their own good and for God’s glory.
Thus discipline and instruction are acts of faith. Raising your child in the instruction and discipline of the Lord means putting your life and the life of your child in his hands. This is often a scary place to be. But even so, there is no better thing than to put your faith in the one person in your life who is completely trustworthy.
Parenting: it’s about faith!