It is every well-intentioned parent’s desire to give his/her child the best life they can. They want to give them the best opportunities and do their best to protect them from pain and disappointment. I know I do! However, what role does disappointment and pain play in a child’s development and character?
A few weeks ago, I ran across a blog written by Dr. Paul Tripp that is worth sharing. I hope that all parents will glean the important truths and the encouragement from this article!
Happy Child = Easy Life, by Dr. Paul Tripp
I love the Bible. Well, that’s a silly thing to say – of course I love the Bible! But one of the (many) reasons I love the Bible is because of the specific detail that’s woven through each verse. Today we’re going to look at what seems like a “side comment” in 1 Kings 1.
1 Kings 1:6 – “His [Adonijah] father [David] had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’”
Let me first talk about Biblical “side comments.” All of these minute details are preserved for us by a wise God who knows our hearts. You don’t have a comprehensive history in Scripture; you have a redemptively selective history. These “asides” are more than just an aside. Each one provides us with tremendous insight. So when you read, don’t rush through in a spiritual monotone.
Back to the passage. Talking of David, it says, “His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’” What an interesting parenting comment. Adonijah was a happy child because his father never got in the way.
Parents, I think we need to reflect once more on the children that God has placed in our care. We need to reflect once more on the fact that we’re agents of the authority of God. We’re, by our exercise of authority, not only called to define the nature of God’s world, but the nature of God Himself. We, in our parenting, must picture His law and His grace, His faithfulness, His patience, and His perseverant commitment to our welfare.
We must also reflect on the deep and abiding spiritual struggle in our children. You’ve given birth to a child who has the DNA of sin in him and in her, and the DNA of sin is selfishness.
Think about the first sin ever committed. What was it about? Autonomy and self-sufficiency.Adam and Eve were on a quest to be in the position that God and God alone should be in. In the very same way, your children (and you, too) have god-like intentions. They want to rule. They want to set their own agenda. They want to be indulged. They will carry with them shocking entitlement.
Seldom will your child say when he’s been told no, “Thank you, dear parent of mine. How much I need your authority. I’m a shockingly idolatrous child.” It’s amazing to be in a mall or grocery store and watch a four-year-old child, with hands on hips and jaw set, argue with somebody who’s lived 40 years longer and who’s three times their size.
What’s going through the heart of that child in that moment? What’s that child thinking? I’ll tell you what they’re thinking – “I am the lord.”
In this verse, we see a grown child who was never told “no.” Adonjiah had been given what he wanted, when he wanted. He was allowed to indulge as he grew, and his pleasures were always satisfied. His heart was never challenged, his motives never questioned, and his selfishness never confronted. Isn’t it interesting that the treason of Adonijah against his father is connected to the way he was raised?
Parents, God the Father is our example. Hebrews 12 says that the one the Father doesn’t discipline is not His son. He’s faithful to discipline us because He knows it will produce a harvest of righteousness.
Parents, your discipline isn’t meant to be punitive. You don’t discipline your child because they’ve messed up your day and you have the right to meet out your anger against him. No, you discipline your child because you want that child to begin to embrace the depth of their sin, and therefore, the depth of their need, and therefore, hunger for the Lord Jesus Christ. In hungering for Christ, your prayer is for that child to commit to a righteous life that’s lived for the glory of the God that they once wanted to replace with selfish indulgence.
Now don’t get me wrong – you’ll get weary. You’ll want to throw in the towel. It’s not easy to say no to a self-sovereign child. In many ways, the easiest life as a parent comes when you give your child whatever they want. It’s going to be very tempting to make your day easier by making your child happier by withdrawing your authority.
But this little side comment in Scripture is a warning to us – persevere! Are you committed? Are you devoted to the heart of your child, or would you rather make life comfortable? Remember, your Lord won’t call you to do a task without enabling you to do it.