Acts Devotionals

Leading Children

Those who are older will recall how scared we were as children to offend or disobey our parents. The tomato box plank for mom or dad’s belt were never too far away. Generally they spoke once and we obeyed … and then came along Doctor Spock, the American pediatrician … who revolutionized the way parents raised children … to their and their children’s detriment! So often we hear … “Families are out of control!” “Children don’t listen anymore!” “Teachers have no control over the children or teenagers in their class at school!” How often have I heard a parent saying … “What am I to do with this child? He (or she) just won’t listen!” Children shout and swear at parents and they throw temper tantrums. Not that the children alone are to blame … the parents very often are the cause because Doctor Spock’s teaching, even unknown to them, has had an influence. The Bible’s teaching about parenting is very different to the ways of the world, especially our “modern” world. Where God instructs children … to:

Ex 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you”

He instructs parents (especially fathers):

Dt 6:1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.

In Deuteronomy chapter 5 Moses repeated the Ten Commandments followed by saying:

Dt 5:28 The LORD heard you when you spoke to me and the LORD said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!”

Note … “with them and their children forever!” The Commandments were repeated to the adults … how would they transfer this to the children? Well, we read:

Dt 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The father’s duty was to teach the Commandments of God to his children in such a way that these Commands were as it were … “in their face” all the time. This way they would learn to honor and respect their parents as their God appointed superiors and authority. In the New Testament we find these words:

Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

God calls for a healthy, loving relationship from both sides. Very briefly, this is how the parents follow God’s way in raising their children. Now we return to the required attributes of the elder.

1 Tim 3:4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

1) The elder must manage his family well.

(1) The word “manage” literally means to “put oneself at the head.” Within this phrase comes the concept of “lead, conduct, direct, govern” through applying rules in a loving, caring manner. In the Biblical context it would mean to guide the children to God through teaching them His Word.

(2) The word “well” means to “conceal or cover”. It’s almost like planting something under the ground. There it is well covered, concealed. The idea is that the father must cover his children so with the Word of God that they understand and follow what it says.

(3) The word “children” means what is says … his offspring … those God has given him and his wife, on loan, to raise up to follow God. That is to duplicate himself.

(4) The word “obey” means control. The children, through the father’s loving teaching, respond by living under the control of God’s Word. That is, they are obedient to God and His Word and flowing from this, they are obedient to their father (parents).

(5) The word “proper” is interesting. The line of thought here is to increase. As the father disciples his children and they grow in God’s Word, their respecting the father (parents) shall increase. Are you able to see the huge difference between the teaching of Doctor Spock (if you have read his material) and what God says in His Word?

Remember we are dealing with eldership … with a man who needs to lead the people of God!

2) Consider another thought arising from the word “manage”. Part of God’s punishment upon Eve (and all wives and mothers) is:

Ge 3:16 Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

Where the concept includes loving care, protection and provision … it also implies leadership and authority. If the husband is the wife’s earthly “lord”, how much more will he be “lord” over his children?

3) The incubation for Church Leadership is leading the family properly. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? As we have stated before, the Church is constituted of families. The elder must rule his family in a Biblical way before he may qualify to rule the People of God. Should the Church Leader of any label, but especially the elder not be the head of his home he will never gain the respect of a Bible believing congregation.

4) One last thought … once the children have left home and are no longer under the responsibility of the father (parents), the father who is an elder is released from this requirement.

Our Glorious Father, help all Christian fathers to lead their children in Biblical ways to draw their children to Jesus. Especially we pray for all elders to full this duty. Amen.

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