Skip Navigation

How to Parent According to Scripture

How can we as parents disciple and train our children according to scripture?

In this episode, Brody shares some thoughts from Proverbs 22:6 and how we can raise our children faithfully. Children are controlled by their sinful nature and at times their enabling parents. Their discipleship as Christ-followers should be our number one priority.

Let’s lead by example and show them what it looks like to follow the Lord.

Transcript: How to Parent According to Scripture

All right. I wanna get into this parenting content. And this is because two weeks ago at the Respond Conference, we spoke on the discipline of God in the life of the believer. The discipline of God and the discipline of the Lord in the life of the believer. And we’ve addressed that here before in episode, and I wanna… So that kinda got me thinking, and then this past weekend doing a parenting conference that got me thinking that it might be good to roll some thoughts and ideas and some content out.

So I wanna talk this episode from… I wanna share some thoughts from Proverbs 22:6, very familiar verse. It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it.” How do we take that verse and sort of build a parenting plan around that? How do we as parents, how do… Some of you that listen to this have really small kids. Some of you have teenagers, and some of you have kids that are out of the house, that you feel in one sense that it’s too late. Or you were faithful and your adult kids are serving the Lord now. The one thing that I appreciate about the topic of parenting, when we’re taking it from the biblical perspective, one of the things that’s so powerful is it helps us understand the way God deals with his sons and daughters.

The scripture says that we have been… That Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren, and we’ve been given sonship through Christ. So our relationship to God is that he is our heavenly Father, and Jesus is our older firstborn brother, even though he was not created, he’s always been. But that word firstborn means he has the status of the preeminent child, the one who is over all things. And so that picture of God as our father, for a lot of us, is difficult because maybe you didn’t have a dad, or maybe your dad was abusive, or maybe your dad abandoned you. Maybe your dad was too passive, or maybe he was passive aggressive. And no doubt, some of us have fathers that did a phenomenal job. Others have fathers that did a terrible job, but none of us have fathers that were perfect.

And so we tend to project onto God what we receive from our earthly fathers, and we tend to project onto Jesus what we learned in marriage between our parents or lack of marriage. If mom had multiple relationships and there was never a stable constant presence of an earthly husband to her, then it’s hard to understand the role that Christ plays in as the bride of Christ in our relationship to Jesus, what that looks like. So you got these, it can be confusing if you’re a new believer. There’s places in scripture where we’re described as being brothers to Christ, other places where we’re the bride of Christ. These are all images to help us understand the nature of our relationship to God. But one thing that is very clear is that God is our heavenly Father, even within the Trinitarian or triune existence of God, we have father, son and Holy Spirit.

So God is our father. What do we learn about the way he parents? I think that’s important. And then we reflect that if we are parenting, we reflect that. So let’s walk through Proverbs 22:6 and just give you, let’s see, one, two, I’ll give you two thoughts. Now obviously we’re gonna break them down, and if we need to go long, we will do it in two episodes. It’s funny, I don’t have it planned for one or two. We’re gonna see how this goes. Okay. A couple of thoughts before we dive into it. One, understanding this, that the nuclear, what what has been referred to and I think this might be a secular word, the nuclear family is under attack. Patriarchal roles, headship of fathers, all of that’s not only, it has disintegrated in society, but it’s also under attack.

And whatever you bring to the parenting table, even if you come from a model that is really biblical, you have to deal with the pressure of a society that’s trying to repress and oppress God’s design for the family. So we do have our social and cultural and societal hurdles. But in Proverbs 22:6, we’ve got a simple instruction. There are other passages of scripture, Colossians, Ephesians, that address parenting throughout the proverbs, there are other verses and sections and passages. But this is sort of the… To me, this is the quintessential passage on parenting. We’ve looked in the past, we did a deep dive into the relationship between Jesus and the Father at the baptism of Jesus, and we looked at principles of God’s fatherhood. The fact that he was present, he was articulate, he was speaking, he was communicating, he was identifying with the Son.

He was expressing love of the son. He was expressing approval of the Son. And we receive all of that as sons and daughters. But in this Proverbs verse, we get sort of the quintessential, I think parenting. If you can sum it up in one sentence, this is it. But it seems simple. Train up a child in the way he should go. When he’s old, he’ll not depart from it. But we can unpack this. So first, let’s consider the word train, and then second, we will consider the promise that’s in… So there’s a command and a promise. Train is the command, and when he’s old, he’ll not depart from it is the promise. So let’s consider the command and then let’s consider the promise. As parents, I want this to be super simple and practical.

Now, we learn from… I believe this is from secular psychology that there are… Or maybe sociology. But anyway, there are three phases of parenting that I think are good to sort of compartmentalize. The first phase is what we would call the cop phase, okay? Second phase is what we would call the coach phase. Third phase is what we would call the counselor phase. Let’s unpack these. If we’re gonna train a child, let’s sort of understand what this succession or progression looks like. The cop phase is gonna be the phase from birth to about age eight or nine. And this is when a child is young, you tend to have a… Your biggest responsibility is to, I guess could be divided into nurture and care and then enforcing the laws, enforcing the rules.

You’re teaching that child your will doesn’t control my will. I’m not enslaved to your will, but you are enslaved to your will. Now listen people, this is important. Critical that during their early stage and development of a child’s life, you have to teach them that you are not a slave to that child’s will and that they cannot be a slave to their will. That they need to submit their will to the better authority. So as a good parent, then they need to submit to my authority, ultimately, because I need to submit to the authority of the Heavenly Father. If I don’t do this, if I don’t teach, and sometimes we’ll call that breaking the child’s will, but what we’re doing is we’re breaking the power of slavery that that will holds over that child. I hope that’s a better… Gives you… ‘Cause we can kinda cringe when we think, ooh, I gotta break this kid’s will, I don’t wanna break their will.

And we kinda confuse that with maybe like breaking their spirit or breaking them down and it’s like, I don’t know. It’s important that we understand we’re not breaking them in the sense that we wanna crush them, but we wanna break the enslaving power of their will. So when we say we’re gonna break their will, that’s what we mean. We’re breaking the enslaving power of their will. Okay? Now, two thoughts on that. Two observations. One, and this is, we need to understand this to understand how this works. Number one, they have a natural sin nature. Everyone’s born into sin, so this child is born sinful. I do not have to teach this child how to do what is right. [chuckle] Whoops! I do not have to teach them how to do what is wrong, I have to teach them how to do what is right because their nature is sinful and they’re enslaved to that sin.

So that’s number one. Number two, I have to be careful that I’m not enabling or emboldening that child. So if I don’t break the enslaving power of that child’s will, then that child will be conditioned by their sinful nature and me enabling him. Imagine a child that is controlled by their sinful nature and an enabling parent. Have you seen that? Some of you are guilty of that. I can tell you, I know there’s two or three toddler little kids running around at Snowbird that are like that. Now, in a healthy community of faith, then those things are gonna get sorted out ’cause you’re gonna have some accountability. Now, the reason I bring that up is not to… I’m not trying to throw some parents under the bus, I’m saying in a healthy community of faith, there’s a good accountability, everyone’s sort of taking part in the shaping of this child as they’re raised.

I know that with my kids, I’m very thankful that a lot of people played a role in shaping them as they’re growing up. So if I don’t get this right, if I don’t get the cop phase right then, then they’re gonna become conditioned by their sin nature, and by me enabling that sin nature to exert its power and will over this child’s emotions and actions. Now, areas that I would say you could look for this to glare and sort of stand out would be in the way they treat their mother, the way they learn to share, and the way they respond when they’re spoken to. Pay attention to that. If you wanna do a quick test, how am I doing in this area? 

Well, how does that child talk to their mother? By the time a kid can articulate sentences, they should know that if they smart off to their mama, there’s gonna be swift, immediate loving, but firm repercussions that are painful. So that they become conditioned not to smart off to their mama. That was a hard and fast rule always has been in my house. You’re not gonna smart off to your mom. You’re not gonna be disrespectful, defined, or ugly to your mother. You’re gonna show her love through kindness, gentleness, and obedience. Then how do they share or do they… This one’s hard and some kids are much harder to teach in this area. But how do they share? Are they willing to work through sharing something that they have? And then how do they respond when you speak to them? 

Do they shut down? Do they fold their arms? Do they lock their jaw and do they… How do they… Those are areas that we can sort of measure. How am I doing in this area of the cop phase? And then I need to remember that no two kids are the same. So this may need adjustment from kid to kid. You may have one kid that looks dead in your eyes every time you discipline him, and another one that sheepishly tucks his chin and sort of looks away and won’t do what he needs to do. And then to parent differently from one kid to the next in that regard is not inconsistency, it’s wisdom. There may be one child that requires a little bit firmer hand and another child that requires a much gentler touch to achieve the same end or result.

So that’s cop phase. Okay. The next phase is what we would call the coach phase. Now, if I’ve done the first stage well, then around age eight or nine, there’s gonna start to be a transition. By the time they’re… And some kids are obviously more mature than others. They learn quicker. That’s how it is. But somewhere around 8, 9, 10 could be 11 as if they’re a slow developer, then somewhere in that range, I’m gonna… There’s gonna be a shift. Let’s say it this way. There’s gonna be a shift in the dynamic of the relationship, okay? A shift where I’m no longer just enforcing the law, freeing the will, bringing discipline, which we’ll get into discipline later. Bringing discipline, which means sometimes chastisement or punishment for actions, fleshing out consequences to actions. But I’m gonna move int… If you just think about the words we’re using, a really good coach has a hand of discipline in a athlete’s life.

They have authority, a voice of authority in their life, but they’re also handing… There’s a lot of responsibility laid on the shoulders of the athlete to go out and learn how to serve, learn how to hit that ball, learn how to… Learn the fundamental movements, learn the offense, learn whatever it is. To hone their craft, their skill, the coach provides guidance with some consequence, sometimes a stronger or heavy hand, other times just encouragement. But the dynamic of the relationship changes a little bit, and they’re maturing. And that should last into the teenage year, well into the teenage years. Probably kids that really develop at a fast rate that are more mature, then by 16 they’re gonna start transitioning, kids that are slower to develop, then definitely by 18, you gotta start transitioning them into the final phase, which is the counselor phase.

Somewhere around 16, no later than 18. And I’ll tell you. I’ve got one kid that at 16, that kid was so mature that I felt like I way… I felt like we moved from coach to counselor earlier than most situations. And you’ll see that, you’ll find that. And then the others, I have one kid that I anticipate, this is probably gonna be a little slower process. Just depends on how they process information. Think how they’re emotionally built, how their life experiences have shaped them. But you gotta shift into that counselor role. And that’s where really from the time they’re 18, they’re legal adults, they leave the house, they go off to college or school or the military or whatever, for the rest of their life, hopefully you get to play that role. Now we know that’s tricky.

That a lot of our listeners have adult children that don’t care what they have to say. And then there’s also the trickiness of if you’re a dad to a daughter or mom or dad to a daughter who marries a man that then becomes sort of… Takes that biblical role of headship in her life. Then she’s not gonna lean on you for a lot, and he may not lean on you for anything. He may feel threatened by you or self-conscious or whatever… I’d say it’s a pretty unique dynamic when a young man will ask his father-in-law for counsel, but it does happen. But you wanna preserve the relationship as best you can so that… Not preserve it, but cultivate that counselor role where if nothing else, you’re able to just speak into life experiences and help them navigate those things. But definitely, the counselor role will be most vibrant in the transitional period from say 18 to 25 or 18 to 22, if they go to college, 18 to marriage, something like that. And then you should… Lord willing, you always have some sort of a voice in their life.

So that’s sort of the phases of training. Train up a child. Now, let’s unpack this part of the verse, train up a child. That word child, and if you go to the Greek, you’ve got a couple of different words for child. One is called huios, and one is called teknon. And the usage of the word child and old, see how in Proverbs 22:6 it says train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old, that word child can be zero to 18. And dependent on huios or teknon, how the word is… How one has to do with a little child, one has to do with a human who is sort of the… It can refer to all phases of childhood. So like right now, I am the child of my mother, even though I’m way old to be called a child. But I’m still called her son or her child. So train up a child in the way he should go. When he’s old, he will not depart from it.

What he’s saying is train up that child through the cop phase and the coach phase. And then when you’re in the counselor phase or when that child is an adult and old and he won’t depart from it… And something that I love to point out here that I learned years ago from a sermon that my father-in-law did on this verse, gosh, when we were first starting Snowbird and I went and drilled into this. And he had nailed it with his exegesis and his study here. The idea is that it’s a cool observation he would always point out, and I really appreciate it. There seems to be train up a child from zero to 18. And when he is old from 12 to death, he won’t depart from it. If we get… For you parents of younger children, now this is not… If your kids are already grown or they’re already 16, then this is not gonna be really so much of something that… Okay. If you’re not a parent yet or you have an infant or a child or a toddler that’s really small and young, what he’s saying is you can have that child remain faithful from 12 to 18.

In other words, through the teenage adolescent years, it’s possible that a kid not depart from the training of scripture and the admonition, nurture, and admonition of the Lord. So that’s kinda cool. So train up a child and there’s the way we do it. Then, other passages to go look at or the episode we did on the fatherhood of God, the father was there. The father made his presence felt. The father was speaking. He was associating with his so. At the baptism of Jesus, he’s expressing love and pleasure. Then Colossians 3 and Ephesians 6 give us some clarity on how parents are to basically live by example, give them time and attention, and make their discipleship as Christ followers your number one priority. So it’s more important than travel baseball.

It’s more important than cheer. It’s more important than band. It’s more important than teaching them to make money. If I’m gonna raise them, bring the ideas, bring them up, bring them up in the nurture and the admonition, the cultivation of the Lord, then I think three… Let me break this down. Three simple things. I’m gonna break this into threes. The first three is to simplify. Live by an example you would want your child to follow. That’s number one. Number two, give them time and attention. And number three, make their discipleship as Christ followers your number one priority. That’s more important than travel baseball. And then the next thing that I think… Well, I’m not gonna get into now, this would be its own episode that we’re gonna follow up with in the near future, it would be one aspect of parenting that I think we really… Parents need instruction and we get a lot of requests for this would be in the area of discipline or punishment. And I would just say this, we need to discipline for discipleship.

If we’re training them up in the way they should go as Christ followers, then my discipline should be principled, it should be discipleship-driven, and it should be strategic. I need a plan. It’s not just impulsive, you know? And so that’s important. Again, we’ll get into that in depth in a later episode. Well, let’s unpack. Let me give you a couple of thoughts here on discipline that I think we don’t have to drill into, we save this for later episode. But let me at least give you sort of some points towards what that conversation would look like. I need to discipline effectively.

I need to discipline consistently. So effectively and consistently, in other words, don’t just discipline, don’t just yell or beat or slap or whatever, just not thinking about is this effective or not? Again, it goes back to understanding. Training up a child requires… There’s wording in there in the original language that implies I need to study how this child is wired and I need to discipline them effectively for the way that they’re built emotionally and psychologically. And then I need to be consistent. I need to stick to my word. I need to do what I say as a parent. The reason for doing all of this effectively and consistently is so that I can maintain fellowship with the child and I’m always working to reconcile broken fellowship. Discipline is always to restore broken fellowship. It’s never to bring retribution or revenge or to get them back for something they’ve done.

So if that… Hopefully that makes sense. Okay. Let me… I wanna wrap this up here. There’s so much. I’ve got so much content laid out from this past weekend and I don’t wanna go down a deep, deep dive. Y’all give me some feedback if you want me to follow some of this up. All right. And then just one other thought that I would say that you might wanna go dive into and do your own study would be, you gotta teach on biblical sexuality. This has to be intentional and they need to learn it from you. They need to not learn it from the culture or from TikTok. That we need to teach goal setting. Teach biblical manhood, biblical womanhood, teach the biblical view of gender, the sexes. You need to teach a complimentary, I believe role or view of marriage where men and women have… God’s brought us into the marriage with different, but very complimentary view. I mean, responsibilities.

And then one quick… Before we go to the second, the final point, so the first point, all this is still under train. Train up a child, there’s the command. Before we go to the promise, let me say this to grandparents. As grandparents, don’t overstep. And I know a lot of grandparents get frustrated ’cause they wanna speak into things, but it’s hard to know how to do that. But believe that you can pray and encourage and love and support and have a voice. And if you’re a grandparent, I think of sweet, sweet Miss Diane at Red Oak Church who listens to this and there’s a shout out to her. We all love her so much.

If you have grandchildren who are not being raised in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord and you’re a grandparent that gets an occasional voice in that kid’s life, then use that time to just love and encourage them and read them from… For the storybook Bible, just really take the opportunities you have and then trust the Lord that he’s gonna do a work in that kid’s life. Okay? Now, train up a child, there’s the command. Number two, the final thing, this is kinda… We’re gonna get… The number two is the promise, and this is gonna be the conclusion. Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he’s old, he’ll not depart from it. In other words, we’ve already touched on this, the word child and old are overlapping so that double covering and protection during the teenage years.

Listen, trust that God is going to be faithful to your obedience. If you train up and raise up a child in the way that God has instructed you to with discipleship is the priority. Yeah, you need to teach ’em how to work. Yeah, you need to teach ’em how to manage money. Yeah, you need to teach ’em what delayed gratification versus instant gratification looks like. But most importantly, teach them to love Jesus and mirror it and reflect it and show it to ’em. Church should be important, it should be a priority. Time in the word should be a priority. These things matter. And live a consistent manner of life, and then pray for your kids.

Pray for ’em. And the conclusion then is that there’s a promise here that there will be a point where they will faithfully follow the Lord and not depart from the instruction you’ve raised ’em with. My prayer for you is that as a parent, you would do this well and do it faithfully. And I believe you will. Now let me know If you’d like for us to come back and do literally dedicate an episode to discipline, principles of discipline, practical application to discipline, and we’ll do that in the near future if we get enough feedback. We’ll probably do it anyway, but how quickly and more urgently we do it will depend on the feedback we get from folks. Hope you guys have an awesome week. Dad-gum, Spring’s here and I’m so excited about it and I love it. So the Snowbird SWO summer staff, SWO 24 summer staff will be arriving next… Let’s see. Next Monday we start our staff training. No, I’m off. Two Mondays. In two Mondays.

Yeah, the 13th. That’s right. Next Monday should be the 6th, and then the 13th is when our staff training begins. So please be praying for the SWO staff. We’re really excited for them to be coming in here. We’re gonna be training them and be doing some episodes on how we do what we do, the mindset behind what we do. And man, what a cool and wonderful thing that God would call out a couple hundred young men and women to serve in labor for the gospel here at SWO this summer. And I wanna close this episode by talking to you a little bit about the Snowbird Leadership Institute because that is sort of the engine that drives Snowbird’s conferences and retreats from August to May. That’s the young men and young women that run our ministry throughout the year and that who without them, we couldn’t pull this off. And all those kids came into the institute out of the summer staff program. So they serve here in the summer and then they have the opportunity to apply for the institute.

And the institute is incredible because I think of it as a training program that has four pillars or four facets. We train them in leadership. We train them in ministry. We train them theologically, and then we train them vocationally. So they’re gonna work… They’re gonna have time worked in… They’re gonna spend time in a department. Maybe maintenance, maybe food service, maybe marketing, maybe media, recreation, they’re gonna learn how to work if they don’t already know how to work, most of them already know how to work, but they’re gonna work. We’re gonna do leadership development. They’re gonna learn how to speak and articulate the gospel, but also how to lead people in a small group setting or how to get up and give a message or a talk or a lecture.

Even if they come in very uncomfortable talking and communicating in front of others. They are gonna learn how to disciple by being discipled. But then also the Leadership Institute is an accredited program. And so students that come and spend a year in that program or two years in that program, they can get college credit for that that transfers to any… There’s a number of schools, but about any Christian school or university. So Liberty University, North Greenville, Columbia International University, Union University, schools like that. But then all of the Southern Baptist schools, Southeastern, New Orleans, Boyce, which is the college at Southern. All of those schools will then accept the transferred credits from kids that… Now our primary partnerships are with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The college, the undergraduate program there is called Leavell College. And the College at Southeastern, which is in Wake Forest, North Carolina. And that college is the undergraduate program that feeds Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

So we have a program here where if you’ve got a young man or young woman that’s wrestling with what comes next, you don’t want them to lose momentum in terms of their educational pursuits, but traditional trip to college is maybe not the best thing for them or staying at home and getting a job and going to community college or online school is not the best thing for them, then consider the institute. And I’m gonna have some institute students on here as we’re gonna have some element students on here to talk about it. So they study under the solid exposition of scripture in both worship services at Snowbird and in the local church. So we plugged them into church ministry. And then, again, classes on the Bible, theology, church history, apologetics, and you go to the website and see where those classes and credits are all accepted. So wonderful program, the Snowbird Leadership Institute. And there’s typically about 30 to 35 students in that from August to May.

And if you’ve been to a Snowbird event, you’ve had those young men and young women work with you, and you probably see what an incredible program it is and how effective it is. So thank y’all for tuning in. It’s gonna be an awesome week. It’s a good time to be alive. Jesus is on the throne. Joe Biden’s crazy. Donald Trump’s somewhere out there, [chuckle] not too far. The world is insane right now. People are losing their minds. We have crazy leadership in Washington, crazy leadership in most states. I can tell you the hope for our future is not in any candidate, it’s not in a man, it’s not in a woman, it’s in Jesus. And thanks be to God he’s still on the throne. And if you’ve got sons and daughters, I wanna finish this with a promise. You got sons and daughters that have strayed or walked away from the Lord, be faithful to pray and speak. When God gives opportunity, don’t force anything, trust the Lord to bring them back, to bring them back. And if you’ve got young sons and daughters and you’re still in the early stages or throes of child-rearing, then follow these principles. And when they’re old, they will not depart from it. And that’s a promise from God, and you can trust it. All right. Have an awesome week.

April 29, 2024

Subscribe for Updates