- Parents worthy of honor engage in the ancient practice of blessing their children.
Like Jacob (Israel) of old, fathers have a power to pronounce a blessing upon their children that will impact many generations to come (cf. Gen. 48:15; 49:25-26).
Generally, this type of blessing takes the form of a prayer to God. For example, Genesis 49:22,27-28 records Jacob’s blessing of Joseph: “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall…because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel… 25 because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb. 26 Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.”
What’s really happening when you bless your child? Numbers 6:27 declares “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.” Thus, pronouncing a blessing on your child is not magical, but it is a form of invoking God’s name over your child and petitioning Him to make this blessing a reality in the life of the child.
Where do you start? I have personally found the Aaronic benediction in Numbers 6 most helpful. Numbers 6:24-26 says: “The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”
To keep you from becoming self-centered in your blessing of your children, you need to add Psalm 67:1 and 2 which reminds us that the purpose of being blessed by God is that we and our children bless the nations with the gospel. “God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us—[Selah]. 2 That Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations.
Remember the line from an old missionary hymn: Publish Glad Tidings – “Give of your sons to bear the message glorious.”
- Parents worthy of honor exercise godly authority and predictable, stable discipline in the lives of their children.
Boy is that a tall order. All of us parents have faltered in this. At our best we are still inconsistent. A great passage that challenges us in this regard is Hebrews 12:5-11 – “What son is not disciplined by his father?”
It is important to distinguish between godly from ungodly authority. Exercising godly authority in the lives of your children is not to hold them under your power, but to empower them to be self-controlled, living freely under God’s authority. Not to make them do what you want, but to help them do God’s will by becoming servants who lay down their lives for Him and others.
The method. How you discipline depends largely upon the age of the child. Although spanking has fallen on hard times, it is biblically sanctioned and encouraged for younger children. In fact when used properly, it is a demonstration of true love.
Proverbs 13:24 declares: “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” But, proper discipline has clear objectives and careful timing.
Objectives. The first objective is to remove foolishness from the child. Proverbs 22:15 encourages parents that “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”
Another objective is to save the soul of the child. Proverbs 23:13-14 asserts “Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you beat him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from Sheol.”
Finally, another objective is to impart wisdom and to avoid shame. Proverbs 29:15 says “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”
Discipline them promptly before the situation gets out of hand. Proverbs 19:18a – “Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death.”
Secondly, discipline is to be applied under controlled emotions (Proverbs 19:18b “do not set your heart on his destruction” i.e., do not put it off until you strike in anger).
Rewards of exercising discipline in your home.
It will foster security in your child and Lord willing they will become a comfort and a delight to you. Proverbs 29:17: “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.”
Discipline yields a harvest of “righteousness” and “peace.” (Hebrews 12:11) We have a wonderful friend in Atlanta who has a saying: “Discipline makes the heart grow sweet.” We have found this to be generally true.
However, there are several crippling styles/types of authority that we must work to avoid.
In his book Five Needs Your Child Must Have Met at Home, Ron Hutchcraft highlights seven crippling styles of authority (pp.117-128).
- Divided authority. In this home, the parents are not united in how to nurture and discipline their children. It is more important for godly parents to be united on an issue than to be right. Hutchcraft states that “four of the most powerful words in a parents arsenal are: ‘Your father and I’ or ‘Your mother and I.’” (p.123)
- Hypocritical authority – Saying one thing, but doing another. All parents would do well to ask themselves: Through my child’s eyes, where am I saying one thing and living another? Pray and ask the Spirit of God to transform you in this area?
- Absentee authority. This type of parent views their children as rental property. They like the prestige of having a family, but are unwilling to pay the price in nurturing their children to become like Christ.
- Volcanic authority. This type characterizes a parent that is reactive and who erupts upon provocation. They evoke fear in their children but lose their respect. This type of authority is irrational, unfair, and out of control.
- Dictatorial authority. The dictator parent confuses authority with being authoritarian. Their favorite sentence: “Because I said so, that’s why.” Authoritarian parents are the most likely to produce a rebel. God, our ultimate authority, has filled his scriptures with many reasons why we should trust and obey Him. Why should we not give our children biblical reasons for their prompt and complete obedience?
- Manipulative authority. Parents with this style often play mind games with their children to get their own way. The idea is to use guilt, pain, pity, pouting, silence, or whatever works to manipulate a child to do a parent’s will. All of us at times fall into this style for which we must repent and ask God to change us.
- Pushy/nagging authority. The parent who uses this type of authority believes that the more times I say it, the more likely my child will be to do it. The opposite is true. The harder you push on people, the more likely they are to go in the opposite direction.