How Not to Parent
Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” . . . Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.
A few days ago, I was riding with my driver-in-training son when we approached a 40 MPH speed limit sign. As he was going 30, I asked him to speed up. He said he would not speed up until he got to the sign as the speed limit was 30 prior to it. He had the audacity to argue with me when I informed him the speed limit was 40 along that entire stretch of road. Perhaps I was just short-tempered from practice driving, but I snapped at him a little. Don’t argue with me. I’ve been driving a bit longer than you. I’m the dad and the doctor, so I know almost everything.
I did not say those exact words, but that was my tone. I knew the speed limit on that road to be 40, before and after the sign, but just in case, I later went back to check (by myself) and found he was right. Stupid sign. They must have just changed it . . .
Though I apologized, my less-than-stellar parenting moment was still fresh when I read this verse to my kids yesterday. As I read the passage, I saw the lesson in it for them. I read, Children obey your parents, emphasizing God’s command that they listen to me. Knowing the verse better than I realized, they both finished it, shooting back, Fathers, do not provoke your children!
I often read the bible this way. I see the lesson for others without grasping the lesson for me. It is so easy to see life problems when they are not mine. I much prefer to point God’s commands at others. I forget that I must follow God before I encourage others to do likewise.
It is just not natural to maintain humility while teaching or parenting. When I take on the position of instructor, it is so easy to assume the posture of condescension. Who is the doctor? When I parent or teach, I often put on a façade of perfection but I parent my best, teach my best and write my best when I live in humility before God myself. When I assume a condescending attitude, I surrender my right relation to God.
When I embrace pride and condescension, I sacrifice my ability to parent appropriately. Though it is painful to do so, I must continually admit my own mistakes, accepting my own lessons as I teach my children. As I read the Bible, I must first apply it to my own life. God’s word is not a weapon to be pointed only at others. It is something I must live first. Only then will I be able to share it appropriately.