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The Apostle Paul on Parenting

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  • Dr. James Boyd

    One of the greatest mistakes in parenting, or at least one of the easiest mistakes to fall into, is to begin to think that the parent is the one in ultimate control. While there are often times raising children in which parents feel powerless, the overall sense is that the parent ought to have control. Often times, when parents sense that they have lost control over a given situation, they will micromanage other areas of life simply to maintain that sense of having control over something. This struggle for power between parent and child can escalate to the point where there appears to be no solution.

    For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:5 (HCSB)

    In 2 Corinthians 4:5, the apostle Paul offers a clear picture of his mindset as the spiritual father of the Corinthian church. This model provides a way through the impasse or stalemate of control between parent and child. In verse five, Paul tells the church that he and his ministry team are not asserting that they are Lord, but rather that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the surrounding context, Paul has said that many people have been blind to the truth about who Jesus is. How clearly do we as parents make known Jesus' lordship? Does the power-struggle between parent and teen exist because the authority of Christ is belittled, or even neglected, in the home? Although there are situations in which children will desire simply to follow their own rebellious natures (much like their parents), there is a way to lead children at a young age to understand that parents are not the ultimate controlling force in a family, Jesus is. By the life we lead as parents, do our children learn that the parents determine the schedule or that Jesus does? Do parents determine extra-curricular activities or does Jesus? Do parents pick their children’s friends, or is Jesus allowed input? Do the parents have the final word in an argument, or is Jesus given a place to speak? Are the parents the ultimate catalyst for behavioral modification, or is the Spirit of Jesus the primary agent of transformation? The parenting method that follows from this “Jesus has the power” mindset surely will not be a quick-fix type of solution. When a parent can sit down with a teen, open God's Word together, and search for answers to a given disagreement, Jesus is recognized rightly as the ultimate ruler and power. . . not merely over the teen, but also over the parent and the situation. Does your parenting scream "I am the one in control," or "Jesus is the one in control?"

    Having made the point that Jesus is the One who has ultimate power to transform our children, the explanation must be offered that God has put parents over children to be His instruments of raising children to look like Him. This task means that parents must give the actual discipline that God would give and give it for the offences that God would give it. Ephesians 5 makes it clear that the husband is to lead his family as Christ leads His church. The father leads his family only as Christ leads him. So even in discipline, parents must be ruled ultimately by Christ. As parents establish boundaries for their children, which may appear to the children like an exercise of parental control, parents must point the children to the rule of Christ in the boundary. If neither parent nor child are viewed to have ultimate power and control, the likelihood of power struggles between parent and child are reduced. Who has power in your home according to your children? If the answer is not “Jesus,” then a change in the parenting method is in order. 

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