Building up believers and the New Testament church

Training Children

Obedience, the Essential Element

The most important thing we will ever teach our children is obedience to authority. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). Without this, nothing else can be taught, because we learn by obedience. The first authority our children face is parental authority. How they respond to this authority will lay the foundation for their response to every other authority they encounter. Life is full of authority, and no man can ever take a place of rightful authority unless he himself is under authority. In fact, Jesus cited recognition of authority as a key element of faith (see Matthew 8:5-13). Thus, for us to teach our children proper response to authority, we ourselves must be those who are under authority. Also, no man can properly be under authority unless he is under the authority of Christ. In other words, even though men exercise natural authority outside of Christ, it will be for selfish ends, and lacking the fragrance of the divine life of God.

Obedience to authority does not come naturally to a child--it must be taught. It should begin at a very early stage. A child can be taught the meaning of "no" well before he can crawl. As a child grows, new areas of awareness appear, and there must be a continual teaching of submission to authority. Obedience to authority is taught in the same way everything else is taught--by commanding. We give a command and see that the child obeys. Consistency in our commands and diligence in following up our commands will teach our children the importance of listening to what is being said and obeying it.