Parenting on Purpose: Authority

Children can learn so much about God from their parents as they properly model Him in the home. From a very early age children begin to learn about authority from their parents.

Authority is the right to control or command thought, opinion, or behavior.

As our creator, God is the one with the authority to determine what is right thought, right opinion, and right behavior. Parents have a responsibility to raise their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4b, ESV) As a parent, you have a God delegated authority over your children to direct them in right thinking, opinion, and behavior. Obviously we must all answer to God, but beyond that, authority touches every aspect our lives. From the home to the church, and from the workplace to the public square (think government), everyone is under some authority. So children must learn the value of God given authority in their lives if they are to survive in the world.

Parents model God’s authority when they establish relationships with rules that reflect God’s righteousness. When unconditional love and belonging are found at home your children will not seek for them elsewhere. So how can you balance relationships while training your child what is right and wrong with rules? There are three ways parents try to train their children, two of which often end in disaster.

The Dictator: Rules without a relationship results in rebellion.

The Buddy: Relationship without rules results in recklessness and chaos.

The Loving Parent: Relationship with rules results in loving respect.

The dictator establishes rules and explains their enforcement with “because I said so.” The parent who tries to be their child’s buddy will do whatever it takes to be liked by their child, including the lax enforcement of rules or letting them “find their own way.” The loving parent best models God in the home by establishing rules that are lovingly thought out for the protection of, and learning of right and wrong by, their child. The rules are enforced with a long term outlook for the child’s good. The reason for the rules, “because I love you and want God’s best for you”, is reinforced with the child. When rules are questioned, the reasons are explained biblically. Once the punishment has been given then love and belonging is reaffirmed to the child.

Being a parent that rightly reflects God is not easy, but with much prayer, patience, diligence, and lots of God’s grace, it will be worth it.

Further reading: Luke 7.1-10; Deu. 6.4-7; Prov. 22.6; Eph. 6.4


David Harris is the Senior Pastor at Faith Baptist Church. A former programmer, in his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife Kim and trying his hand at the illusive craft of smoking meat.