The following are lessons that I’ve learned over the years with regards to family life – both as a husband and father. I’ll be updating this page with five lessons per week for the next few weeks.
- Parenting is neither coercing your children nor manipulating your children to external change. Ultimately, all the discipline and reprove will not change them, for only God can regenerate and renew hearts with the gospel. Parenting is about exposing your children to the revelation of God – His ways, His works, His will, His word – through faithful instructing and exemplifying. It is about creating the environment in which they become exposed to the truth of who God is and what God expects, and entrusting the condition of their souls entirely on the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:4, 2 Timothy 2:24-25)
- Commune closely with God daily and personally. It’s the best thing you can do for your family. Remember that the blind can’t lead the blind; if you want to lead them to Christ, you have to be seeing Christ first.
- Aim not to look at children as 2.0 versions of yourself. You may be further ahead in your growth, but they are individuals whom God Himself is raising individually for a purpose that is different for yours. Your job as a parent is not to force them into a particular mold, but rather to discern the mold that God has for them and to raise them into it, however different or alike it is from your mold (Psalm 139:14)
- Do not discipline your children in the same way or to the same degree for each act of disobedience. While all sins are worthy of condemnation, not all sins have the same practical consequences. Discipline of highest degree should be reserved for disobedience and rebellion regarding how they treat people. (See sin consequences from Leviticus and Deuteronomy)
- Remember to have the church invest in your family. While you as a parent are the one primarily accountable for their growth, you and your wife are not the only ones whose influences are going to be used for their growth.
- Show your family, both through words and through conduct, that Jesus is the boss and not you. (Ephesians 5:25-6:4, Psalm 23:1, 1 Peter 5:4). He owns them; you don’t.
- Remember that the Bible never commands you to lead your wife;it assumes it (Ephesians 5:23-25). It’s not a matter of whether or not you lead – as a man, your leadership is a natural law of how God made things. It’s a matter of where you lead her and how you lead her. Lead her to Christ, and lead her with love. If you do this, your convictions will become hers.
- Don’t try to fix your wife. Understand, appreciate, and honor her for who God made her to be (1 Peter 3:7). Treat her with respect, always, and allow the Spirit to make the changes.
- Your leadership in your family comes primarily through your example, not your authority (1 Peter 5:3). Hypocritical husbands and fathers produce hypocritical households.
- As the head of the household, you are commanded to raise up and nurture your family in the Word, not to coerce them in the word. It is to provide a nest – a safe place – for them to be able to grow in the ways of God (Ephesians 5:25, 6:4).
- Teach your children the value of people over the pleasure of rewards. They need to understand that the reason why they are to do good to people is not so that they can earn something from people, but because people are more valuable than them (Philippians 2:1-4)
- As with the church, there is a huge difference between leading by domination and leading by influence. The first is unbiblical. The second is biblical. It’s not so much about whether your wife and children know they should follow you. It’s about whether or not, while following you, they actually want to be like you (1 Peter 5:3)
- Die to yourself when living with your wife. She is not there to meet your needs. You are there to sacrifice for her, and manifest the gospel to her. Her understanding of Christ’s atoning sacrifice should become more clear through its shadow – which is your treatment of her (Ephesians 5:25-33).
- Do not force your wife to be someone that she is not – especially in church ministry – simply for your convenience. Discern who it is that God has designed her to be, and nourish that growth. Respect her for who she is as your fellow heir. (1 Peter 3:7, Ephesians 5)