Dads: Day Sixteen

I have been working on a little devotional for fathers and thought I might share some of it with you from time to time. I know I need it!


“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3

Being a child has some definite advantages!

For example, it is easy for a child to know God’s will for their lives. They are to obey their parents. That’s not too complicated. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy for them to do. One reason it is difficult for them to obey is because they are sinners. Another reason though, is because you are a sinner too.

Our children may not be as good as we wish, but neither are we.

Without realizing it, we often make it difficult for our children to obey.

One way we can make it difficult for our children to obey is when we don’t have a biblical definition of obedience.

Do you know what obedience actually is?

It’s hard to do something right when the person telling you to do it doesn’t understand what he’s actually asking you to do. And, I have found there are many parents who don’t understand obedience the same way God does.

What do I mean?

Tedd Tripp defines obedience like this, “Obedience is the willing submission of one person to the authority of another.”

Now look at this, really pay attention here.

“It means more than a child doing what he is told.  It means doing what he is told, without challenge, without excuse, without delay.”

Obedience is more than just blindly doing what your parents want you to do after three spankings, fifteen excuses, and all kinds of complaining. Obedience is doing what you are asked to do without challenge, without excuse and without delay. And that often means doing something you don’t want to do. When I say to my children, let’s jump in the car and go get something to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and they all run to the car, I don’t say to myself, what obedience! what godly children! because they all wanted to do that. Obviously, obeying will sometimes involving doing things you already planned on, but obedience really shows itself when you are called to do something you don’t want to do.

Now here’s where it gets important, because Tripp goes on, “You inevitably train your children in obedience.  Some of you, you train them to obey only after you’ve yelled, pleaded or threatened.” In other words, they know obedience means wait until Dad yells and then I have to do it. Or, “You may train them to obey only when they wish to.” Johnny do this! Or you know Johnny don’t do that, I will do it. Further, “You may not train them to obey at all.  Even that is a type of training in obedience. When you tell your children something to do, and they argue with you, that is not biblical obedience.  When they make excuses, that is not obedience.  When they refuse to respond at once, they are not obeying.  Submission to authority means that they obey without delay, excuse or challenge.”   

Wow! That’s even convicting in our own relationship with God.  Do we obey God like that? 

Tripp continues, “It is easy to think unclearly about obedience.  When you say to your child, ‘Dear I want you to go to bed now,’ there is only one appropriate response.”

There’s not like ten different responses to that, there’s only one.

“It is not, ‘I’ll go after I finish coloring this page.’  It is not, ‘Why do I always have to go to bed so early?’ It is not to ignore you entirely. “

Honey. go to bed. Go to bed.  As if you weren’t speaking.

“There is only one obedient response.  It is to go to bed without delay and if you accept any other response, you are training your children to disobey.”

What’s ironic is that we often get upset with our children for doing the very thing we trained them to do in the first place. We taught them an unbiblical definition of obedience. We literally trained them in it. And then we get upset with them for not living up to God’s standard when we didn’t really teach them what that standard was.

We may say we love our children, but when act like this, we are not loving our children well. Instead, we love our children well when we call them to God’s standards for their lives, teach them what those standards are, and help them learn how to submit to God’s authority in the home.   

Take Time to Reflect:

  1. What stands out to you from this definition of obedience?
  2. What have you been teaching your children about what it means to obey through your parenting? 

Practical Suggestion:

  1. Over the next few days, whenever you ask your children to do something, watch how they respond very carefully. What is their pattern? If their response doesn’t match up to biblical obedience, honestly evaluate your parenting style. Is there anything you are doing that has taught them to respond like that? If so, go to God and repent. Ask him to help you know how to graciously call your children to a biblical definition of obedience. Then sit down with your children, talk about what obedience means, make sure they understand it, ask for their forgiveness for not calling them to that standard, and pray together that God will help them honor Him through obedience and you honor Him through expecting it.

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