I believe Josh McDowell’s statement: “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion;” simplifies Ephesians 6:4. When we exasperate or provoke our children with rules without taking the time to know them as individuals, there will not be respectful compliance.
Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Ephesians 6:4 MSG) (Emphasis is mine.)
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 ESV) (Emphasis is mine.)
Whether we are the children’s parent or their Sunday School teacher, we are still expected to “bring them up in the discipline,” or “lead them in the commandments of God.” Instilling biblical principles without getting into a power struggle or maintaining classroom order without becoming tyrannical can be a challenge at times. By applying the principles seen in the relationship between David and God, we can create a loving, respectful classroom.
* David knew that God listened to him (Psalms 119:26). Refusing to listen to anyone’s point of view is rude and provoking. You may have to explain to Denise the Distractor that her story must wait, but find a way to give her your undivided attention later.
* David trusted God’s judgments, because he knew God cared about him (Psalms 1:39:1-4,17,18). Our children are more likely to submit to our correction when they feel accepted unconditionally. (Read “Accepting Each Child as a Unique Creation of God” dated Oct. 5, 2016)
* God held David accountable for his actions (Psalms 51:4). When we do not call out unacceptable conduct, we give children a false view of God’s standards. By maintaining order in the class, we are demonstrating love for God and for the children (Hebrews 12:5-6). (Listen to “Dealing with a Lack of Respect from Kids” Dec. 8, 2016)
* God’s rules gave David security (Psalms 119:114). Rules protect the children from hurting one another and make everyone safe. (Read “Treating Children with Respect Increases Your Authority” July 26, 2016)
I love the phrase used in The Message’s Version of Ephesians 6:4: “Take them by the hand and lead.” I feel the described connection; the child trusts us to lead. We are moving at his pace, taking small steps, and stopping to let him examine a bug along the path. We know the way to the Master, so we naturally guide. If he runs ahead, we call him back for his protection. Together we walk in a loving, respectful, relationship.
* How healthy is your relationship with the children in your classroom?
* Do you emphasize your plans and material, seeing the children as obstacles or an audience?
* Do you let the children manipulate you into abandoning the purpose of Bible study?
About the Author:
After serving as children’s minister for twenty-four years, Jayna Coppedge wrote the parenting book she wanted to give to the families in her ministry. Parenting with the End in Mind is available on Amazon. Join her parenting Facebook discussion group www.facebook.com/groups/1583891675269970/ . Contact Jayna for speaking at your next parenting event.