When the 10-year-olds in Mrs. Imogene Frost’s class at the Brookside, N.J. Community Sunday School expressed their views of “What’s wrong with grownups?” they came up with these complaints:
- Grownups make promises, then they forget all about them, or else they say it wasn’t really a promise, just a maybe.
- Grownups don’t do the things they’re always telling the children to do—like pick up their things, or be neat, or always tell the truth.
- Grownups never really listen to what children have to say. They always decide ahead of time what they’re going to answer.
- Grownups make mistakes, but they won’t admit them. They always pretend that they weren’t mistakes at all—or that somebody else made them.
- Grownups interrupt children all the time and think nothing of it. If a child interrupts a grownup, he gets a scolding or something worse.
- Grownups never understand how much children want a certain thing—a certain color or shape or size. If it’s something they don’t admire—even if the children have spent their own money for it—they always say, “I can’t imagine what you want with that old thing!”
- Sometimes grownups punish children unfairly. It isn’t right if you’ve done just some little thing wrong and grownups take away something that means an awful lot to you. Other times you can do something really bad and they say they’re going to punish you, but they don’t. You never know, and you ought to know.
- Grownups are always talking about what they did and what they knew when they were 10 years old—but they never try to think what it’s like to be 10 years old right now.
For Families Only, J. A. Petersen, ed., Tyndale, 1977, p. 253
In Ephesians 6:4, Paul exhorts, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Paul is warning fathers to not be so exacting and controlling with their children that would promote the kind of rebellion that we see so frequently in our society and in the church. Provoking a child will drive them to anger and ultimately cause them to turn away from what is most precious to their parents. It is the child’s way of expressing anger against the way they were treated as a child. This rebellion may be manifested by indifference to the parent’s spiritual values, living an immoral lifestyle, and even marrying someone the parents would not approve of.
We may provoke our children to anger:
- By saying one thing and doing another
- By always blaming and never praising
- By being inconsistent and unfair with discipline
- By showing favoritism in the home
- By making promises and not keeping them
- By making light of concerns the child feels
- By being unreasonably restrictive
In Ephesians 6:4, “bring them up” translates “to nourish,” which emphasizes our obligation to meet our children’s needs, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually. “Discipline” means “to provide instruction, with the intent of forming proper habits of behavior. A home without rules is insecure and without love. A parent shows love and creates security by giving positive guidance and by setting limits on behavior and enforcing them.
Paul encourages us to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. When was the last time you had a good spiritual talk with any of your children? One startling bit of research conducted by the Christian Business Men’s Committee found the following: when the father is an active believer, there is about a seventy-five percent likelihood that the children will also become active believers. But if only the mother is a believer, this likelihood is dramatically reduced to fifteen percent. (Keith Meyering, in Discipleship Journal, issue #49, p. 41.)
Children learn our values in those critical moments when we choose what is most important. Children are most impressed when they see what we do in “crisis” moments, when there is an obvious conflict of interests and values and we have to choose one over the other. A young boy watches his dad as he decided whether to spend time working on a pressing project or attending church. He is learning his values from those decisions.
It was the summer Olympics of 1992. It was the quarter finals of the 400-meter sprint. British athlete Derek Redmond was one of the favorites for the gold medal. A lifetime of training had brought him to this moment. The starters gun fired and the athletes burst out of the blocks.
Halfway through the race Derek Redmond was leading. Then disaster struck. His hamstring went and he collapsed on the track. The agony on his tear streaked face was both physical and mental. It was a crushing blow.
Medical attendants ran to assist him. Derek waved them away. He came to race and he was going to finish. He got to his feet and started hobbling down the track.
The crowd was mesmerized. Officials didn’t know what to do. And then an older man ran onto the track. He brushed off officials who tried to stop him. He ran up beside Derek and placed his arms around him.
The man was Derek Redmond’s father, Jim.
“You don’t have to do this son” Jim said.
“Yes, I do” Derek replied.
“Then we’ll finish this race together” came the response from Derek’s father.
Arm in arm, with agony on Derek’s face, tears on his father’s, Derek and Jim continued down the track. Derek buried his face in his father’s shoulder. His father’s strong shoulders carried his son physically and emotionally. Jim waved away officials who tried to stop them.
Finally, accompanied by a now roaring crowd, standing on their feet and applauding, Derek Redmond crossed the line. It became the defining moment of the Barcelona Olympics.
May you be encouraged to leave a legacy that will produce long after you have departed this world.
Chris (M.Div., Faith Evangelical Seminary) serves as the Lead Pastor of City Central Church and is deeply committed to seeing the Church empowered and restored. His call as a pastor and teacher is the training, equipping, and restoration of the saints. In addition, Chris serves as the director of Freedom Immersion trainings, which has taken him around the country and around the globe. Chris resides in Tacoma with his wife, Jena, and their four children.