PARENTING IS A FOUNDATIONAL MINISTRY
Parents have the fundamental calling of raising godly children (Smith 2020a). In essence, a couple's first ministry calling from God is their children (Deut 6:4-9). In this concise article, I will attempt to define three distinct areas parents need to focus on in order to successfully raise godly offspring. These sacred responsibilities are to love, teach, and discipline children into "absolute" established truth in the Lord.
1. Love is the Cornerstone
Scripture, explicitly teaches that children are a blessing, a gift, and a reward (Ps 127:3). Parents are not only to cherish their children but are commanded to love them unconditionally (Smith 2020a). According to Smith, there are four fundamental ways in which parents can manifest their love toward their children, namely through attention, approval, acceptance, and affection. Parents need to set aside quality time for each individual child. This establishes a strong focal bond. Affirmation, correctly applied over the course of the formative years brings holistic wellbeing. Unconditional acceptance from the parents towards the child forms the basis for a lifetime of being secure in oneself. Finally, tangibly felt love through affection has no rival. The physical demonstration of love must be felt by the child through warm-hearted touch.
2. Teaching is the Way
The Lord requires that parents train children in preparation for Kingdom living (Prv 22:6). It is imperative for parents to provide children with correct instruction regarding behaviour and belief according to scripture (Smith 2020a). This is done by establishing boundaries, determining values, and encouraging a lifestyle of devoted worship of Jesus (Eph 6:4). This is easier said than done in a 21st-century culture that is rampantly being overpowered with relativism being taught in every sector (Boa 2006). In a postmodern society that does not embrace absolutes, it becomes paramount for parents to seek God's wisdom in teaching their children. In a world system that denies the notion of absolute truth in the authenticity of salvation in Jesus Christ, children need to be educated in the unchanging reality of God (Cole 2013).
3. Discipline is Safety
God has designed biblical discipline to bring security to a child's life (Heb 12:7). According to Smith, Louw and Nida give us three distinct definitions for the Greek word "discipline" (2020a). Firstly, this implies instruction for the forming of right deportment. Secondly, it intimates to train a child in accordance with the rules for appropriate conduct for life. Finally, it means to administer punishment for the benefit of amended actions. Discipline has two main functions in practical application, namely initiating rules and implementing rules. These two elements in pragmatic heuristical daily implementation are necessary for successful parenting. When these facets of godly parenting are effectively applied the results will yield a child being obedient ultimately to God Himself (Smith 2020). Biblically-based parental discipline has been designed to prepare a child for being shaped and approved for effective witness to the prescribed order of God.
The Bible has laid out an absolute truth to the parenting of children, contrary to the modern idea of destructive relativism. The parents’ first ministry is their child. They have been assigned the privilege of raising their child through the avenues of agape love, Kingdom instruction that prepares one for a successful life, and unwavering discipline which provides safety for a child in a dangerous world.
Boa K 2006. 4. The Way Things Ought to Be: Postmodernism and the Question of Reality.
Online Article. Accessed from https://bible.org/seriespage/4-way-things-ought-be-
Cole SJ 2013. Lesson 1: God’s Wisdom For Families (Ephesians 5:15-16). Online article.
Smith KG 2020. ‘Children.’ Johannesburg: South African Theological Seminary.
Smith KG 2020a. ‘Parents.’ Johannesburg: South African Theological Seminary.