This is a sequel to a far-away post that turned upside down almost all parenting fundas and assumptions Marg Wanowrie church had. The Heritage Parenting Series has eight sermon videos, along with helpful notes and summaries, which I would recommend heartily to parents (and non-parents) curious about Biblical parenting or, God’s principles for bringing up children.
That mountain with the shining trophy called WELL-BEHAVING CHILDREN and PEACE OF MIND at the top! Yaay!
You start at the foot though.
Journeying up this seemingly arduous path with your kids and spouse, covered with broken china, dal-smeared walls, failed family-worship times and long-forgotten commitments to evangelism and church gatherings.
Also there’s poopoo in the living room, dental visits inspired by horror movies, torn expensive flip-books, 3AM-diaper changes, expectations from church leaders, deep-theology questions from 4-year olds maybe John Piper could explain, airborne toys, raw and public disobedience, balcony-scares and tantrums by both children and parents.
What an uphill minefield God has landed you at, right?
These sermons re-establish that parenting is a huge blessing (Ps. 127:3,4) and need not be a panic-inducing exercise.
Who is the speaker in this series? Josh McPherson, an elder at Grace City Church and husband to a wife who recently faced a heart condition, and father of a family that has seen, under God’s grace, unique and difficult medical conditions in their kids. You want to pay attention because this guy doesn’t seem like a bag of theories.
McPherson convincingly argues that a lot of pain in parenting can be avoided if we stick to some biblical principles right at the beginning.
(1) Sermon#4 : Getting To The Heart Of Behaviour. The main point of this sermon- God doesn’t ask us to manage or parent the behaviour of children. Instead, we need to direct their heart-attitudes to Jesus.
There is a world of difference between behaviour management and managing the heart. McPherson points out that parents resort to shame, guilt, fear of punishment, manipulation (withholding approval) and bribing to make kids obey. Sure, these can result in “obedience”, but their hearts will never meet Jesus because they follow just your list of rules.
These are not just short-cuts, but damaging ones at that. McPherson’s Oreo-milkshake-incident with his son drives home this point amply well (I’m not gonna tell you, watch it!)
“All behaviour flows from the heart. The heart is sinful from birth” (Luke 6:45). Parents will serve their children biblically if they help them see their sin and then teach them to repent and turn to Jesus.
You need to ask questions – what the child was feeling when they sinned, why did they do it, and who or what were they loving the most (the definition of worship). McPherson insightfully notes that we don’t do this with our children because we don’t do it ourselves. Oh man!
We also need not make the moments of parenting all about ourselves and take offense. Parenting is a means for us to become more like Jesus (sanctification) and endless opportunities for children to encounter Jesus as their Saviour from their sin.
(2) Sermon #5 : The “Two’s” Don’t Have To Be Terrible. For ages 0-6. This sermon onward, Josh McPherson gives principles for different age groups. In this age group, parents need to present authority, and I mean this- Parents should primarily make choices for the children. This gives them a true picture of how the real world works.
Yes, the real world has authority in place- all over. Country-Citizen. Elders-Members. Boss-Employee. Parents-Children. Let’s not teach them to rule over.
The aim is to teach children to obey parents as we would obey God, without going to extremes of passivity or abuse, and to teach them to honour their parents since it is the Lord who has put parents as authority (Ephesians 6:1-4). This means, instructing them not to talk back or give orders but to be be polite while interrupting.
Self-esteem and choice-making are not biblical alternatives to submitting without questions. This is also the right time for parents to stop making games out of their sin, to not make excuses for kids and always give explanations to them or to repeat instructions.
Here are three helpful questions parents can–
Are we instructing them clearly? As clearly as Christ instructs us?
Are we disciplining consistently? Yes, using the rod too, with an aim to achieve the purpose of discipline, which is pain with Godly intentions! Do the children know why they are being disciplined? If we think disciplining kids is unhealthy, it’s possible that our understanding of God is unbiblical. See Hebrews 12:4-9.
Are we working hard to win the affections of our children? Do we use eye contact and meaningful touch with them? Do we spend focused time with them?
(3) Sermon #6 : Cultivating Roots of Character. For ages 7-12. Character is who we are and what we do when no one is looking.
One of the most important things we learnt as a church here was this.
The instruction and training that goes into a child is like a concrete foundation, that is very, very difficult to remove and re-learn when they are past 0-6 years.
Can we build a wall of good character upon a foundation that is built all wrong? All the best!
McPherson takes the effort to interview four different families for this sermon. These tools below help cultivate roots of character in kids.
Instruction. Different ways, ranging from good books to one-on-one times together.
Correction. Learn to ask questions to differentiate between wrong motives and wrong thinking? Let’s not excuse when we need to rebuke. Let’s not rebuke when we need to excuse.
Rebuke. Rebuke becomes less frequent (hopefully). The father’s authority is key for mom to fall back on. Learn to not instruct children only in moments of rebuke. There needs to be already teaching and explaining happening in their lives. Prov 1:7-9.
Example. Modeling must go before teaching. Biblical instruction cannot be divorced from personal example. If the father is lazy, guess who learns that fast? You want your daughter to learn to apologise, but when was the last time you truly apologised to her for your mistakes?
That’s all for now. In the coming weeks, I intend to summarize the last two sermons in this series.
Do you have questions about or insights into Biblical parenting that we may have totally missed? Write to us in the comments’ section!
If your child was asked how they see the gospel changing their parents, what would they say?
If your child was asked what their parents are most passionate about, deeply committed to and excited about, what would they say?