Parents, your authority is established by what you honor. What you honor, what you value is a window into who you are. And the people who are looking the most closely through that window are your children. What you value the most is shown most clearly by your actions and not your words.
The thoughts of what you value most are more transparent than you realize. These hidden thoughts are a huge factor in establishing your authority as a parent. Why? Because being driven by what God says is good and righteous centers your thoughts and brings honor to God! But, if honoring God is not uppermost in your thoughts something else will be. It is this replacement that will dominate your thinking and undermine your authority as a parent.
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God is the one who grants our authority as parents. We did not earn this authority. It was granted to us by God so that we would teach our children to follow him. Proverbs 16:12 tells us that just as God grants this derived authority to us, it is also God who establishes and maintains that authority:
Kings detest wrongdoing,
for a throne is established through righteousness.
This declaration is direct. It is a wise thing to hate wrong thinking and practices that do not honor God. Why, because a king’s authority is established by righteous actions and thoughts. The authority of a king, and by extension anyone in a position of leadership, is established by God. Colossians 1:15-20 expands and solidifies this foundational truth.
If you want to lead your family well, you must honor God well in your actions and thoughts. Practically, this means your parenting is not primarily about keeping order and requiring obedience. It is not primarily about clean rooms and not getting into trouble. As valuable as these things are, this is not the most important reason God granted you the authority to lead your children. Your primary mission as a parent is to bring honor to God. You do this by doing the hard and often times messy work of making Christ real and preeminent in every area of your life! Even opportunity for discipline is also an opportunity for the gospel. Every direction that you give is so that God may be honored and not so much that your life will appear more orderly.
Your calling as a parent is to use the authority that God gives to you to call your children to trust Christ. Behavior, clean rooms, peace and quiet, all have no meaning unless your children see the beauty of Jesus Christ and are drawn to him by the power of the gospel!
Your children are a precious treasure entrusted to you by God for the purpose of bringing the message of the gospel to their hearts. This is why you have authority as a parent. Being driven by this one great truth is what establishes your authority and will cause you to lead your children to Christ.
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This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.