The book starts off with an example of 12 year old Jennifer who refuses to obey her parents by doing her homework. It goes on to explain that we are living in a self-absorbed culture where parenting has lost it's way; A culture where the "notion of quality time is far more attractive than the old idea of quantity". The parent no longer holds much authority in the life of a child when everyone is so self-absorbed.
On the other hand - I grew up in a church where we were taught basically that a child isn't really entitled to an opinion, but is to obey without question or explanation - the adult in charge. These people weren't trying to be cruel - but the result was a lot of kids who ended up rebelling against the militant style authority in their life.
If we use the Gospel and Jesus Christ as an example - we'll see that neither of these ideals match up with the will of God for our lives - not as individuals - or as parents.
We are to live under God's authority. We are to teach our children to submit to God's authority in their life. The book says "we are God's agents" in teaching our children to submit to authority - on God's behalf and for their own good. Our motives are not to change their behavior, but to get to their hearts.
1 Samuel 16: 7
But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height,
for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
When we submit, and teach our children to submit to God's sovereign authority in our life we are empowered
to live freely in the freedom of the gospel. As parents we are to require obedience as one who loves them - with kindness. It is the way to truly guide and shepherd their hearts - meeting their most important needs.
It is critical that we walk as shining examples of obedience to our Creator. God promises to give us a new heart - and it is with this that we teach and guide our children to submit theirs.
Ezekiel 36: 26
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your
heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."
Grace is powerful!
Before you get upset about the abundant use of the word "authority" please realize that we are talking about a loving, Godly, kind authority - a grace based parental authority.
What is your parenting goal? In examining mine - I find that I'm not looking for simple "behavior changes" but my husband and I are in agreement that our goal is to teach them how to make Godly choices for their life - to have a deep desire to follow after God's will for their life. This is a much different goal than simply teaching them to obey the rules.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well-spring of life."
In Chapter 1 in the book it states, "The behavior a person exhibits, is an expression of the overflow of the heart" or in other words "the heart determines behavior".
If we really want to help our children - we've GOT to get to the heart of the matter - we've got to get to know what moves them - what makes them tick - the WHY of why they do the things they do. What is the motivation for their behavior? Not only do we have to get there, but we have to help them get there and understand what is motivating them - and learn to lay it down at the cross.
It is no small task - but there is none in my life of greater importance.
Will you embark on this journey with me?
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