There are 2 basic biblical parenting principles from which we ought to operate—building walls and opening gates. But what does this mean? And how do you do this?
Ephesians 6:1-4 says…
- “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
As parents, we want things to “go well” with our children. We pray they prosper in all God has them to do. To do that, we must “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
The key to having a Christ-centered home begins with recognizing you have authority appointed by God. Your right as a parent is derived from God’s authority, and you are to act on His behalf.
However, you must also recognize that we, and our children, are born with rebellious hearts. Human nature opposes authority, and some of us aren’t comfortable with the authority we’ve been given. As a parent, you witnessed the rebellious heart of your child early in life when they shook their head, said no, or threw a fit because they didn’t get what they wanted. That’s rebellion.
We naturally oppose authority. Yet the Word of God tells us we have the ability to overcome the natural. And our goal as parents is to display and teach this truth…
- “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”—Galatians 5:16-18
Build Walls and Open Gates | Protection and Preparation
The Biblical Parenting Principle of Building Walls
In ancient days, walls were built around a city to protect it and the people from invasions and intruders. Building walls around our kids protects them from what “walks about like a roaring lion seeking to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)–an outside intruder. This doesn’t mean you need to be driven by fear. Instead, aim to put fences in your children’s lives during the most impressionable and moldable years, protecting them from sinful influences.
Early on, you should have great control over where your children go and what they are allowed to be around, watch, hear, and do.
This age of protection is from birth to around 10-12 years.
The Biblical Parenting Principle of Opening Gates
The gates you open for your kids let what is inside go out. Therefore, you need to gradually open these gates, preparing your kids for what they will face on the other side. Carefully introduce freedom and responsibility to your children as you help them understand what it means to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:16-18).
The age of preparation is from 10-12 through 18.
The Protection and Preparation Plan
The plan is to gradually and wisely move your children from a place of high parental control to high personal control. The secret to raising godly children is knowing the balance between protecting them and preparing them.
While the Word of God is full of biblical parenting principles, no book, chapter, or verse says, “Do this at this age, do that at that age.” There are no guarantees they’ll turn out to be strong, godly individuals. Many things influence your children, and while you have the most significant impact, you don’t have the only impact.
This is where you must put your complete trust in God and His promises, knowing your children are ultimately His, not yours.
There Are 3 Types of Parenting
Take an honest assessment of your parenting style. The beauty of God’s power and love is that He meets you wherever you are. Simply be honest with Him and yourself. Ask Him to show you areas in your parenting that need realignment and follow the Spirit’s guidance as He reveals His strategies to biblical parenting.
- Absentee parenting. These parents are physically gone from the home or physically disengaged and uninvolved emotionally and spiritually.
- Engaged parenting. These parents are engaged in their children’s lives but lack a strategic plan to train them to become godly adults. They have no strategic plan to fulfill verse 4 to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
- Strategic parenting. These parents are involved and engaged in their children’s lives and have a strategic plan to equip them to be strong, godly people.
Children who grow up to be godly don’t get there accidentally. Wise and strategic parenting is required.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”–James 1:5 (emphasis added)
The War for the Hearts and Souls of Our Children
It’s important to remember there are 2 worldviews at war for the hearts and souls of our children: the secular worldview and the biblical worldview. These worldviews will shape children into the adults they become.
Our worldviews shape our vision, values, attitudes, and actions and define our decisions. The same applies to our children.
The secular worldview says there is no absolute truth, right and wrong are subjective, and the individual has ultimate authority in their life, not God. The secular worldview believes the Bible is a book of ideas and stories but does not contain absolute truth. Someone with a secular worldview might say, “I can do what I want to do and live by my own rules.” This is what the average youth in America has been taught.
Our children will embrace a secular worldview if we don’t have a strategic plan to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
A Biblical worldview says God is our authority, and the Bible is absolute truth. There is absolute right and wrong. Someone with a biblical worldview looks through the lens of the infallible Word of God to assess the world around them. God’s Word is the foundation and framework for everything they see, say, and do.
Our children are more likely to embrace a biblical worldview if we follow biblical parenting principles that first protect and then prepare them for the world in which we live.
The Early Years
Biblical parenting principles in the early years focus on protection. This is done by teaching them the concept of sin, their need for forgiveness, obedience and submission to authority, and the difference between self-centeredness and humility, and introducing them to a biblical worldview and values.
- Introduce the concept of sin and the need for forgiveness.
In the early years, introduce them to the concept of sin and their need for forgiveness through the blood sacrifice of Jesus. The first spiritual lesson your kids should learn is the basic concept of the Gospel--sin separates us from God (Romans 3:23); Christ came to pay the price for our sin so that we can be reconciled to God (Romans 5:8, 6:23), and He rose from the dead and is alive forevermore (Romans 10:9-10).
- Teach them about the necessity of obedience and submission to authority.
Your children must learn to function in submission to various authorities in their lives. This is a concept that is undermined in a number of ways at this time in our culture. But the truth is if they do not learn how to submit to and respect authorities at school, work, home, etc., the result is strife, division, lawlessness, and disorder. Children ultimately learn to obey God by first learning to obey their parents.
- Teach them the difference between self-centeredness and humility.
Human beings naturally come into the world self-absorbed and self-centered. We live in a society that is increasingly self-absorbed because it’s full of adults who learned as a child it was all about their self-esteem rather than finding their true identity in Christ.
You have likely heard that building self-esteem is essential to success. However, the Bible says pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18). Philippians 2:3-5 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind [humility] let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Children need to know they are part of the world, not the center of it.
When your children understand who they belong to, they know their true identities and will come to see they are chosen, redeemed, forgiven, and blessed.
- Introduce them to a biblical worldview and biblical values.
Help them see that Christianity and belief in the Bible is not “blind faith” but based on hard evidence. Teach your children how to defend their faith and stand on the Word of God.
Biblical parenting principles during teen years focus on preparation. These are the years to help them see God’s view of masculinity and femininity while teaching them key character qualities, giving them a sense of identity, practical teaching for life, and blessing them.
- Give them a compelling vision for character building.
This is a time to instill character qualities such as honesty, integrity, tenacity, strength, virtue, and humility. The age of 13 is a pivotal moment in their lives, crossing from childhood to teen years. They are emerging adults, and this is the time to teach them what that looks like and how to take on more personal responsibility.
- Give them a sense of identity.
You can help them by teaching them to have a strong work ethic and be a worshiper by bringing glory to God in all that they do. This is a time to help them explore gifts and life’s calling (not just a career) and help them love the Lord Jesus Christ sacrificially, so they will one day be prepared to love their spouse with a sacrificial love.
- Prepare them for life practically.
These are the years to discuss how to handle themselves around the opposite sex, their finances, when to file their taxes, etc. During their teen years, help them understand how they are uniquely designed for a purpose, how to practically and biblically communicate what they need, and how to be resourceful.
- Give them your blessing.
Your children need to know you think they’ve got what it takes, that they are treasured and have a purpose and that God will guide them through their lives. They simply must seek Him above all else.
Parenting is a challenge but also an opportunity. When you understand biblical parenting principles of first protection and then preparation, you establish a foundation within your home and in your kids to help them see the world through a biblical lens.
Our kids must know the war for their hearts and souls and learn how to overcome it. It isn’t easy, but trust God in the process. He will grow you as you raise your kids.