I mentioned last week that, when they were young, we taught our children that obedience means cheerfully, completely, and immediately. First, let me say that this idea was not original with us. We heard this definition of obedience from someone else; it made sense, so we adopted it.
We realized that the only command in scripture directed specifically to children was to obey their parents. (See Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20.) Therefore we thought this must be an important concept to teach our children.
Also we thought it was better to teach them concepts than to try to make them live by all sorts of rules. On top of that, when you’re in the middle of raising children—in the middle of what I call stimulus overload—it’s easy for you, the parent, to forget which rules are currently in effect!
Why cheerful obedience? Let me explain this one by telling you about a “Dennis the Menace” cartoon I once saw. Dennis, obviously in trouble and unhappy about it, was sitting in his chair in the corner, and in the thought bubble over his head he was saying, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!”
If you have a child “obeying” with a stinky attitude, he is still exerting his will or his desire to control. It’s like he’s saying to you, “All right. I’ll do what you tell me to do, but I’m going to make sure you know I don’t like it!” That, my friends, is not a submissive attitude.
Sometimes we would tell a child to “get that look off your face” (an instruction both Tim and I had heard from our parents as we were growing up. 🙂 ) It was amazing to see our children respond to that command. They apparently would think about what their faces looked like, then what their faces needed to look like, concentrate, and begin to make the change. You could watch their faces morph from mad faces to happy faces! And the interesting thing about it was that it was very hard for them to keep a bad attitude when they had a happy face!
We believe that a parent is God’s representative to a child. The way a child learns to respond to his parent will be the way he tends to respond to God. We wanted our children to learn to respond to us—and eventually to God—with respect and by trusting that we had their best interests at heart, obeying also because they knew that we—and God—loved them very much.
I am too long winded! I’ll have to discuss complete and immediate obedience next week!