I am trying to get into the habit of reading a Proverb a day to my kids. So far, the most effective way to read aloud to them and have discussions is in the car, when they are my captured audience. Two mornings ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk about obedience. The topic presented itself in the first few verses of chapter 3.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1, 2 NASB)
I explained to the boys that blessing comes with obeying your parents. I also shared that as parents we obey God and submit to his authority. Whether you are a parent or child, God is the ultimate authority.
Elijah asked, “If Solomon was writing to his children to obey, how come they didn’t obey God?” (Good question, eh?)
So I shared that Solomon was not the best example. When God told him not to marry foreign women who would turn his heart away from God, he did not obey. I explained to Elijah that the mistakes we make as parents affect our children. Our example influences their life choices.
He got that. And as I was clarifying this for him, it was also a good reminder for me to be a model of submission and obedience…even in the little things. My kids are always watching.
A few weeks ago, I went swimming with the kids. I didn’t want to bother taking a shower before entering the pool. So I was about to jump into the water when Elijah said, “Mom, you are supposed to shower first.”
“I did take a shower at home today. So I am clean,” I replied. But Elijah convicted me. “Mom, that’s the rule, we should obey.”
I could not get out of that one. He was right. And at that moment I had a choice. I could have insisted, “No, it’s okay. I don’t need to take a shower.” Yet I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to be a good example. So I rinsed off under the shower then jumped into the pool.
What is the point? If I want my children to learn obedience, I must model it.
In his book, Shepherding A Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp defines obedience as “doing what one is told — without challenge, without excuse, without delay.” (p.138) When my husband, Edric, was doing a study on obedience, he told me that the Hebrew meaning of obedience is obey first, understand later.
Hmm…How many times have I grumbled inside when Edric asks me to get him a drink of water, a towel, a roll of toilet paper, or give him a massage? I resist his authority when I don’t like what he is asking me to do.
As an example, recently he asked me to write a report for him and I challenged him and made excuses. It was not until I finished reading Tripp’s book that I realized I was not being obedient in the same way I am teaching my kids to be obedient. It was hypocrisy. I had to apologize to Edric and after repenting, I worked on the report right away.
Tripp says, “It is so difficult to teach submission to authority in a culture in which we have few models to follow. At one time, adults provided examples of submission to authority. Mom submitted to dad as head of the house. Dad submitted to his boss. There was a general concept of one’s station in life and behaving in a manner appropriate to it. Various liberation movements in the second half of the 20th century have changed all that…Therefore our children are growing up in a culture of no ready models of submission to authority.” (p.142)
My my. Reading this was a good wake up call for me. Obedient children need to see obedient parents!