Depending on your perspective, raising children can be a white knuckle ride on an emotional roller coaster or a thrilling ride with incredible joy. Like the space shuttle lifting off the launch pad, the ideal is that we help our children break free of our orbit and successfully reach the destination of adulthood. That becomes increasingly difficult today with child-centered homes, identity crises, self-esteem issues, helicopter parents, and delayed adolescence.
As parents, we want our children to achieve independence. We want them to be physically and emotionally healthy, to stand on their own, to contribute to society in a meaningful way, and to not move back home with mom & dad. As important as these issues are, perhaps the more pressing issue is, How can we pass the baton of faith successfully to the next generation? That is the challenge given to parents in Colossians 3:20-21.
In this passage, the apostle Paul barely scratches the surface of what the Bible says about the roles and responsibilities of children and parents. Below is an overview of what the Scriptures say on that subject.
The primary responsibility of children is to obey and honor their parents. In the growing years, they are to obey their parents (Colossians 3:20; Ephesians 6:1). In their mature years, children are to respect and honor their parents (Leviticus 19:3, 32), help provide for their needs (Matthew 15:3-6; 1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8, 16) and to live wisely (Proverbs 23:24-25).
The primary role of the parents is that of teacher (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 1-9; Deuteronomy 6:4-9). To fulfill this role, parents need to know what they want to teach, what values they want to pass on to their children. They need to be intentional in their teaching, and to use teachable moments.
The primary responsibility of the parents is to nurture their children. They are to create an atmosphere of love and acceptance where their kids can grow and flourish. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-12, the apostle Paul compares his style of ministering to people to how a mother and a father parent their children. A mother is gentle, caring, and loving. She shares her life with her children because they are dear to her. A father encourages, exhorts, comforts, and urges his children on to great things.
John Newton once said, “I know that my father loved me—but he did not seem to wish me to see it.” That should not be true of our families.
As parents, we need to practice discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11) in a positive manner (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). We must avoid frustrating our children by setting the bar too high or too low. Rather than merely punish our kids for misbehavior, we want to train them for future correct behavior.
Whether we are a parent or a child, we must accept the role that God has given us. We must take responsibility for our own spiritual growth as well as the growth of our family. We must also look for opportunities to demonstrate honor to our parents, regardless of our age.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on April 7, 2013. It is part of a series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Please click on the click to download a copy of the sermon notes.