North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

     A mother of seven-year old twins had been dealing with their squabbling all day and she’d finally had enough. After pulling them apart, she said, “How would you feel if Daddy and I argued like that?” Her son replied, “But you and Daddy chose each other. We had no choice!”

     Every well-meaning parent will want to teach their child respect, courtesy, and fair play. Nurturing devotion requires a consistent effort even when it’s not convenient. But, even when you do what appears to be all the right things in raising your children, the kids don’t always follow your guidance. The responsibility lies on the shoulders of the kids to put into action what you teach. Are you teaching them the right things; the right way?

     Bobby was raised in a very strict home where duty to God was emphasized, but Bobby felt suffocated by the rules. His problem was no relationship with God, just a list of sins not to commit. Nothing about God was attractive to Bobby and by the time he made it to his teen years he was one of the most rebellious teens in his town. He knew he was sinning, because he knew the rules. He simply had an overwhelming attitude of not caring. But years later he found himself being drawn back to the church. This time, and in this church, God was seen as compassionate and self-sacrificing. He took what he knew about Christian living, practiced God’s love, and became a compassionate and self-sacrificing young man. This is a good example of grace empowering in a way the law never has and never will.

     The Bible tells us, “Love the Lord your God, and walk in all His ways” (Josh. 22:5). Learning to love comes first, then learning how to walk with God comes second. Parents need to help their children develop their relationship with God. Teaching that God is love is vital in the process of positive spiritual growth. Too many parents stress the importance of walking in the ways of God and they miss the crucial importance of first cultivating a love for God. Love is the key that opens all doors. Like other adults, your kids will do far more out of love than they will ever do out of pure duty. It’s when we shortcut the process and stress duty before cultivating relationships, we unintentionally set our kids up for rebellion.

     Try to avoid the temptation to “lay down the law”, and instead, emphasize the “law of love”. Make sure to emphasize God as One who loves, cares, and comforts His children. Find practical ways of showing them by living it out yourself. Kids are more apt to listen and respond positively to grace rather than the law. Emphasizing grace is not a sign of a weak parent. It’s an attribute taught by Christ that requires a strong parent to take the risk in practicing it.

     Love sometimes requires you to use discipline. Love must be in the fabric of your family. If it’s not, when the times get hard, relationships get shaky. Every human heart regardless of age, longs for deep relationships based on love. When we understand that God loves us, and we really see God for who He is, we gain a greater capacity to do the right thing because we don’t want to disappoint Him. Grace trumps law as a way of relating to God for you and your kids. Hold them accountable, but give your kids grace.

     Parenting is not for cowards, nor is it an easy job. There are right and wrong ways to do everything and parenting is no different. Every parent will make mistakes when it comes to raising children. But this is not an excuse to try and avoid doing the right thing when it’s inconvenient. It’s worth the effort in the long run. When communicating with your children it’s easier when you’re honest with them and open with your feelings toward them.

     Try the following simple suggestions for “Good Parenting”:  1) Be consistent. It helps them know what’s expected of them. 2) Model the behavior you expect from your child. Give them a positive example. 3) Reward good behavior with praise. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. 4) Co-parent with your spouse as much as possible. Try not to argue in front of your kids. 5) Help your kids express their emotions in a controlled manner. And control your own emotions. You are their most important teacher. 6) Try to see things through the eyes of your child. 7) Be a good listener; use eye contact and let them finish when they’re trying to explain something. 8) Give your kids choices whenever possible. It helps them be responsible for what they chose. 9) Never, ever hit or hurt your child in anger or frustration. 10) Take every opportunity to tell your children you love them and appreciate them.

     God is lavishly gracious, kind beyond measure, and extremely loving to His children (us). Personally develop a right view of God. This is the surest way to generate a right response to what He (God) asks of you.

  • This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at
Posted by on Oct 27 2013. Filed under Churches, Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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