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Instruction and Parenting.

Instruction & Parenting
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Parents all understand Paul’s command to “bring the children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6.4). But sometimes we grow weary in teaching the same old truths on many occasions again and again. Solomon could relate. He said “Hear my son your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Prov 1:8). All through the Book of Proverbs, we receive many examples of Solomon pleading with his son to hear, listen to, heed, pay attention to, and receive His instruction. For instance, “my son, do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments” (Prov 3:1). This is a vital and unending part of parenting. As the children grow, we as parents must be deliberate in our teaching and instructing of their hearts. This not only takes place in the discipline room when they’re very small (with simple points of instruction) but as the child gets older, the physical spanking will decrease and the verbal instruction and biblical reasoning with the child will increase. When the child is so young that he cannot articulate or reason with you as the parent, discipline with the rod is the primary means of discipline when he has sinned. But as the child grows, verbal instruction, reasoning from the Scriptures, and helping the child see the desires that rule his heart that cause him to then choose to act, speak, or respond a certain way will then take priority in shepherding them toward Christ.

So how do we teach and instruct? It’s something that we can’t not do. We can’t ignore this clear command. We’re called to impress God’s truths deeply on the hearts of our kids (Deut 6.4-9). Come my children listen to me and I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 34.11). So what does this teaching and instruction look like?  I want to provide 7 brief descriptions of our parental instruction to our children.

1. Our instruction must be biblical. I suppose that’s obvious for us as Christian parents but this point cannot be overemphasized. With the incessant pull of media, videos, movies, music, shows, and with the unraveling of the “family” in our culture, we can’t just coast in casual teaching of our children. We must daily show our kids (from the youngest of ages!) what the Bible says, where it says it in the Bible, why it says what it says, and how we must live in response to God’s Truth. Let it be said: we don’t want our instruction to be child-centered or man-centered, but God-centered and biblically-founded. We must be the primary soul-carers (pastors!) of our kids.

2. Our instruction must be formal. By this I refer to regular times where we gather as a family to teach our kids about God and His truth in family worship. As Joshua said: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24.15), so every parent must resolve to formally instruct the children in the home, in the Word, with intentionality, as a priority, each day. Going to church 50 times a year (1x a week) is good, but teaching 360+ times a year in the home is unparalleled!

3. Our instruction must be informal. Not only are there planned times of teaching but there is also the “as you are going” mentality of parental instruction. What if you see an ambulance driving by? What if you see a beautiful sunset that God has painted across the sky? What if you see a beautiful rainbow with all the colors magnificently displayed? What if you see two men fighting on the street corner? What if you see something immodest on a billboard? How do you respond in these unplanned opportunities, but to take it as a providential gift from God as a teaching moment! As you look around, you could constantly give thanks and praise to God for everything and use this as an opportunity to informally, and yet powerfully, teach your kids.

4. Our instruction must be incarnated (lived out). We could teach that we must pray always. We could teach that we must rejoice in Jesus Christ. We could tell our kids to give thanks in all circumstances. We could tell our kids to repent, ask for forgiveness, grant repentance, and walk humbly. But do we model this with our lives? Part of parenting is modeling and showing how God’s Word changes our lives. Our kids are watching! So much of living is more caught than taught. So teach with your mouth but also show with your life!

5. Our instruction must be courageous (even when the world doesn’t want it). Of course, the world is at enmity with Christ and it is darkness as God is in the Light. Of course biblical teaching is at odds with worldly thinking. Yet our teaching must be founded on the Word, grounded in truth, courageous in our application and resolute in our obedience. We tell our kids: God’s glory is the ultimate goal and we live for Him, we rejoice in Him, we suffer for Him, we’ll die for Him! It’s always better to die for the truth than to live for a lie. Teach from the Bible and also include the importance of courage and convictions. Don’t just hope for the kids to have some truths, pray for the truths to grab hold of your children! That’s living with courage!

6. Our instruction must be joy-filled (God’s path is always best). Solomon told his son, Rehoboam, “do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments … it will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones (Prov 3.1, 8). Indeed, how “blessed is the man who finds wisdom” (Prov 3.13). Our teaching must include not only the laws of God and the duty to obey but also the joys of obedience and the pleasantness of following Christ even in the midst of sufferings, hardships, uncertainties, and pain. Let us remind our kids the best and most joyful and most satisfying path is always God’s path as clearly laid out in Scripture. We pursue whatever we think will bring us the greatest happiness and pleasure, so let us constantly impress upon our children that obeying God brings great joy -- because it does!

7. Our instruction, as it comes from Scripture, is sufficient (found in Scripture). Remember the doctrine of bibliology, the Bible is absolutely sufficient for all things related to life and godliness (2 Pet 1.3-4). That means that what God has clearly revealed and said in His written revelation (the Bible) is all we need for guidance and help through life -- any situation in life. We don’t need to supplement the Bible with secular scientific hypotheses, or modern-day psychological formulas or self-help ideologies. God’s Word is enough and sufficient for our instructing our kids and for helping them as they grow and mature through the early ages through the teenage years till they move out and live on their own.

We can’t overemphasize the importance of teaching our children … to put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God but to keep His commandments (Ps 78.5-7). May God help us to teach and instruct our children well, from Scripture, with joy, with intentionality, for His glory.

More can be found at Pastor Geoff's articles page.

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