When the institution of the family flounders in its primary responsibility to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6) the state is eventually overwhelmed with insurmountable problems.
The state has a much easier job of maintaining civility in society when parents lovingly discipline their children at a young age. One might say that parents oversee the manufacturing plant of a good society. They are God’s first remedy in a fallen world, His intended means of curtailing evil in a nation. The book of Proverbs has much to say to parents about how to raise up a child.
Read on, my friend.
A great country and a good culture are created first and foremost through good parenting.
To this point, Proverbs 28:4 states, “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked …” This passage relates to God’s moral law in the Torah, but the principle being expressed here by Solomon could be applied in a broader sense to one’s obedience to a nation’s laws (cf. Romans 1:32).
It follows that those in the institution of government should not only prioritize their own parenting responsibilities, but in a professional sense, seek to strengthen policies that help the nuclear family to train up a child. What follows is a study almost exclusively from the book of Proverbs related to helping you, as a public servant, become a better parent both personally and professionally; it is doubly powerful when the leaders of a society not only model great parenting, but write laws that help to facilitate this with others.
II. THE PURPOSES OF PARENTS
As a public servant you have to fight your scheduler in order to be a good parent because good parenting takes time; you are in a constant battle over your priorities. This means you must be especially knowledgeable and skilled at parenting simply because you will most likely have less time to achieve this than will your next door neighbor. Accordingly, give special attention to this study and the principles expounded upon herein. The purposes of parenting are:
A. TO INSTRUCT YOUR CHILDREN
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8).
“My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother” (6:20).
This first purpose is perhaps the most important. If you get this right and not so much the other Scriptures to follow, you will probably still end up with good kids. Here’s the big principle that is so often forsaken in today’s American households: Your child needs to clearly observe the commandment(s) of his or her parents and not be allowed to forsake them.
Obedience is not an option that the parent affords the child.
Rather, obedience is to be demanded— with immediacy—always. The above passages imply that the child or children must learn to revere authority. To allow your children to show disrespect for your authority is akin to teaching them to eventually not fear God. A healthy fear of God is the basis for your child to one day bow the knee to the Lordship of Christ (hopefully at a young age) which is the ultimate objective and purpose for parenting. There is no need to submit to God later if there is no need to submit to parents now. Such reverence for authority is created in a child at an early age through good parenting.
“To receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity” (1:3).
With the parent’s authority established and not in question, this passage contains some of the lofty goals that good parenting can achieve in the child: To instruct a child in wise behavior means that the parents have as their objective to inculcate in the child the ability to eventually govern him or herself by choice. To train in righteousness means the child will eventually self-apply God’s standards when dealing with himself, others, and God. When trained in justice, the child will conform to the will and standard of God. And lastly, equity has the idea of living life in a fair and pleasing way. Such children, borne from excellent parenting, not only eventually end up loving the Lord, but make for wonderful citizens!
“My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you …” (2:1).
Notice how this passage relates back to 1:8 and the primary point I first made in this study. If you read through chapter two of Proverbs, you will learn of all the things this if leads to. It culminates in verse 5, wherein is the then: Then you will discern the fear of the Lord. Fearing the Lord is wrought via demanding that the child receive my [your] words and treasure my [your] commandments.
“For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught” (3:26).
As a result of this proper fear of the Lord and the child treasuring His commandments (and yours) there results an ensuing confidence and peace of mind in the child. The child looks to his parents and eventually to God for guidance—and this Proverb indicates that God looks out for, and over him! What a tremendous principle and motivation this is to be a good, instructive parent! Think of the summation of these aforementioned passages in this way:
Good parenting results in God helping your child!
God will keep your child’s foot from being caught if you teach your child to receive your instruction at a young age! Unfortunately for the parent, child and society, too many parents simply do not instruct their children. In essence they live with them under the same roof, with the child, finding his or her own way. Leniency is in vogue—as if it is a higher virtue than instruction. It is not! It is bad parenting. Generally, there is too little proactive instruction in today’s American families which result in so many wayward kids and social ills. The following Proverbs underscore this:
“Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding, for I give you sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction” (4:1–2).
“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge” (22:17).
These passages serve to further illustrate the need of the parent to be proactive— requiring their children to apply [their] mind to the knowledge of the parent.
Don’t be a wimpy parent who allows his kids to call the shots. Children eventually disrespect wimpy parents.
B. TO EXHORT YOUR CHILDREN
Exhorting is what the passages that I will list in this section all have in common. Some good synonyms for exhort are: “urge strongly, advise, and warn.” The parent’s responsibilities go beyond instruction (my first point in the purpose of parenting section of the outline): Beyond just instructing, the parent is to press God’s truths into not just the mind, but also the heart of the child by repetition, urgency, and reason. One must shepherd the heart of his child. The following Proverbs bear witness to a parent’s urgency in this regard. Notice the demanding, exhortative nature of the passages:
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments” (3:1).
“My son, let them not vanish from your sight; keep sound wisdom and discretion …” (3:21).
“Now therefore O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways” (8:32).
“My son, keep my words and treasure my commandments within you” (7:1).
C. TO CORRECT YOUR CHILDREN
Not only does the biblically driven parent instruct and exhort, he also corrects.
“For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects a son in whom he delights” (3:12).
Hebrews 12:9–10 is the New Testament corollary passage to this Proverb:
“Furthermore we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good so that we may share His holiness.”
Notice the continuing association between the child’s obedience to an earthly father and his or her later submissive response to God. At the risk of “guilting you out” here:
Many people are rebellious toward God today because of bad parenting earlier.
The child never learned the value and fruit of correction at a young age. No one ever broke his self-will and as a result he carries around a rebellious spirit today. This idea is evidenced in the following Proverb:
“Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding” (Proverbs 9:6).
This is a passage that should be memorized and utilized by every parent when shepherding the heart of a child. Learn to say, “That’s wrong in accordance with God’s Word.” Such language best sets the stage for the child to have a sensitivity and desire to please God tomorrow.
Of course, if one is a humanist, believing that man is basically good, not fallen, then there is no reason for correction. Quite to the contrary, the Christian worldview holds that man is fallen, including one’s cute little boy or girl, and is therefore in dire need of parental instruction, exhortation, and correction. Lastly, your children are in need of direction in their path through life.
D. TO DIRECT YOUR CHILDREN
Notice the following set of Proverbs that speak to this purpose in parenting:
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (1:10).
“My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path …” (1:15).
“So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous” (2:20).
“Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart” (4:21).
The picture of a path is a wonderful metaphor related to the direction one walks in life (i.e., the straight and narrow path). Parents should not be remiss in correcting the direction their child is going as he or she ages. These mid-course corrections are ultra-critical decisions wherein the parent must not prove passive. If one has taught a child submission to authority at a young age, it will not be as difficult for the child to obey at an older age (while still under one’s roof ). In Danielle’s and my parenting, we chose our children’s friends when necessary.
E. KEEP THEM FROM SEXUAL SIN
A specific area of parenting spoken of repeatedly is that of keeping your child from sexual sin.
“Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house …” (5:8).
“To keep you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress” (6:24).
“That they may keep you from an adulteress, from the foreigner who flatters with her words” (7:5).
A responsible parent will always know who his child is with and where he is—especially at night. Be passionate about making your child accountable in these areas at all times. Teach your child to not pander to his fallen nature, but rather to mortify the flesh, to discipline [his] body and make it [his] slave (1 Corinthians 9:27a). Teach your sons and daughters that sexual desire is to be fulfilled in marriage only. Conversely, sexual involvement before marriage leads to absolutely nothing good for your children, their friends, your family, and our nation! As a governmental leader you know how much sexual sin ends up costing our nation in terms of the welfare roles, medical costs, law enforcement, etc. Such are reduced by good parenting in this one particular area.
III. THE RESPONSE OF THE CHILD
Children are called to obey their parents in Ephesians 6:1. Proverbs echoes the same truth per the following. This is important to know when your child resists your authority:
“Then he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live’” (Proverbs 4:4).
“When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction” (24:32).
A parent must establish authority early on. This allows the child to gain a sense of conditioning as to the normative nature of parental authority in his life. It sets the stage for the future in the home. It follows that at a young age, parents must curtail a child’s natural tendency to rebel; a parent must lovingly prove and enforce his authority at the earliest stages of a child’s life. This is done through spanking. Notice the following Proverb in this regard:
“He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (13:24).
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (22:15).
Corporal punishment for wrong doing is replete throughout Scripture; it is one of the realities and necessities of living in a fallen world. But keep in mind always that spanking must be done in love and not anger.
IV. THE BENEFITS OF GOOD PARENTING
There are tremendous benefits from taking the time and possessing and practicing the biblical skills necessary to raising your children. The following benefits listed in Proverbs last for a lifetime! That’s to say that investing in your good parenting skills today will come back to you a hundred-fold tomorrow! It is akin to creating an investment portfolio with geometric returns!
A. A LONG LIFE
“Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many” (4:10).
Ephesians 6:3 quotes this promise also, as recorded first in Deuteronomy 5:16, “… that your days may be prolonged” on the earth. Wherein a child must first be obedient, to accept my sayings for this principle to take effect, it implies (as we have seen) the discipline and commitment of a parent to be instructive and exhortative. Think about this: your child’s length of life is related to your parenting skills.
B. A LIVELY AND PLEASANT HOME
How blessed it is to thoroughly look forward to each and every family gathering! There is little in this life to compare to the joys of family … but how many are those, who, for a lack of wisdom in parenting, miss out on these later blessings. Be passionate about your parenting now and it will accrue to a present and future lively and pleasant home for the rest of your life.
“Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye” (Proverbs 7:2).
“For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips” (22:18).
Child-centered families are abundant today, but God’s Word calls us to parent-centered families.
C. A BETTER SOCIETY
If a child doesn’t learn obedience in the home, he will most likely be a cost to society, both literally and figuratively. Conversely, those who learn to respect authority in the home will be on the side of helping society by curtailing crime, as this Proverb bears out (and was used in the prologue):
“Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive with them” (28:4).
Parenting today relates and is connected to a good society tomorrow; the two are intrinsically intertwined in Scripture. It follows that public servants not only give attention to their own parenting skills but to lawmaking that helps parents achieve their God-given responsibility.
V. THE RESULTS OF BAD PARENTING
Proverbs lists the deleterious things that happen to a child when the parent allows rebellion—both passive and aggressive—in the home. What follows should serve as an additional motivation to prioritize your parenting while in office. It is by far more important to displease your scheduler and staff than it is to shirk from your God-given responsibilities at home. Be clear on this:
You must prioritize serving the institution of the family over and above serving the institution of the state.
Don’t confuse these primacies lest, long after serving in office, you have to live with the following the rest of your life. Herein is what Solomon states to his son in this regard, who, by the way, and in the context of the book of Proverbs, will someday be in charge of running the state:
A. A CHILD CHARACTERIZED BY RUIN
“The wise of heart will receive commands, but a babbling fool will be ruined” (10:8).
B. A CHILD CHARACTERIZED BY STRIFE
“Through insolence comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel” (13:10).
C. A CHILD CHARACTERIZED BY DEATH
“He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die” (19:16).
D. A CHILD CHARACTERIZED BY GLUTTONY
“He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father” (28:7).
E. A CHILD WHO IS UNREPENTANT
“He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (28:9).
F. A CHILD WHO IS UNRESTRAINED
“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law” (29:18).
Too many bad things can happen to a child whose parents are negligent, whose passion for the privilege of parenting is eclipsed by the limelight of public service. It is too high a price to pay—to neglect your child and abandon your higher calling.
As fallen human beings, we will all stumble at times in our parenting. That is to be expected, but thank God He gives us around 18 or so years to train up a child in the way he should go. Pray that God will help you in this area and read biblically based books on this subject with your spouse. Continue to hone your skills in this area.
This study would contain less than the whole counsel of God on this matter without including mention of 1 Timothy 2:15. This passage speaks about the primary role the woman has in raising children. Hers is a high calling of influence, love, and discipline in raising the next generation. Equally standing before God in their worth, God has assigned the role of leading this generation primarily to the man, who is the breadwinner, whereas He has assigned the role of influencing the next generation to the woman. This is a much higher and much more difficult calling. May both husband and wife commit afresh and anew to this God-given responsibility that benefits not only the child, family, and society in the present and the future, but also the Kingdom of God. Parents are to raise their children in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This is not a suggestion; it is a God-ordained responsibility, a privilege to be extremely passionate about.