Saturday, February 19, 2011

“Your Mission, if you decide to accept it …”

The TV and movie action-drama Mission Impossible made these words famous. When it comes to parenting with authority, this famous phrase is particularly appropriate. The question is, “Are you willing to accept your God given mission to parent with proper authority?” Sadly, many parents do not take seriously this concept.

Titus 2:15 says, “Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.”

Sometimes parents find it difficult to rebuke children with authority because they don’t feel adequate for the job, they don’t know what to say or do, or they don’t think the child will actually listen when given instruction. These obstacles can and should be overcome, because parental authority is God given.

Our children have had several “first year” teachers in the public school system. Because of their lack of experience, they tried to gain good behavior by being a “friend” to the students. So these new teachers very quickly had classes that were out of control, and as a result, learning did not take place. Our children were frustrated because so much class time was taken over by behavior problems. These teachers believed that children will obey you if they like you. This is simply not true. Children will obey you if you teach them your expectations and show them that you will back up those expectations with consequences. If the teacher had shown within the first week, that she had high expectations of the students, and required their cooperation, instead of trying to be their friend, she would have gained the control she needed to teach the class. Our children had previously attended a private school, in which classes are very disciplined and students are expected to show respect for their teachers. As a result, very little time is wasted on discipline problems. If a class is not controlled, learning cannot take place. It is the same with parenting. The child has to be under control for learning to take place. In the younger years, the child will comply because they know the expectations, and they know what consequences will result if they do not comply. As they internalize godly principles, they will learn to comply because of a love for God and love for what is right.

Some Scriptures regarding a parent’s position and the concept of God given authority are:

Ephesians 6:2, “Honor your father and mother- which is the first commandment with a promise- that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Romans 13:1-2, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden,
for that would be of no advantage to you.”

1 Peter 2:13-14, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”

God has created order. He created government, parents, and teachers, and this order is dependent upon each accepting his God given position and accepting his authority to make it work. And it requires citizens and children paying the honor due to each position. It requires parents doing their job to raise the next generation to do their part in participating in the civil society God has orchestrated and ordained. We would be disobedient to not respect the order that God has ordained. Authority is necessary in society and in the home, because it brings order. If everyone did their own thing it would be chaos. Whether the differences were preference or outright sin wouldn’t matter. If we don’t work together in an orderly way, there is chaos. Think about what traffic would be like if there were no rules, signs, lights or road markings! Rules and authority bring order, productivity, peace and safety.

As parents, we are our children's first and closest look at what authority is like. If we want our children to have a healthy relationship with authority in the future, especially God, we need to be fair, good, loving, and respectful, but also strong, consistent, knowledgeable, instructive, confident, directive and authoritative.

One of the problems with democratic parenting (the idea that reduces parents to an equal status with their children), is that if a child feels equal with his parents, he will not understand the importance of obeying police officers, school teachers, AWANA leaders, etc. And if they don’t see the necessity of obeying, they won’t be able to learn from these “authorities” the things that they will need to know to grow in knowledge, relational skills and their relationship with God.

Are you up to the challenge? Are you willing to accept you mission (which, yes, at times may seem impossible) to parent with the authority that God has given you? Our prayer is that you are because In a very real way ... our future depends on you.

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