So, what do parenting and ABC Sports have in common? “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!” Parenting can be exhilarating and debilitating at the same time! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my 22+ years of parenting, but I sure wish I could go back and change some things.
Due to the age of my three kids (college grad/marrying in Dec; college sophomore; high school junior), most of my hardcore parenting is behind me. Still, my heart longs for my kids to live their entire lives for God’s glory.
When I read 1 Samuel 12.12-36, it makes me very uncomfortable. It makes me shudder. It gives me dread. While this text is not designed for use at a weekend parenting seminar on “how it’s done,” it does serve as a stern warning on what NOT to do!
Let me give you three “plot points” for your own study and then provide some practical insights for wise parenting.
Sin committed (12-17, 22-25)
Bottom line: Hophni and Phinehas committed acts of pathetic iniquity and made a mockery of their priestly responsibilities.
Sin minimized (2.22-25)
Bottom line: Eli’s first recorded rebuke of his sons’ misconduct came when he was “very old” and may imply major parental neglect in the earlier years.
Sin confronted (2.27-29)
Bottom line: Eli is confronted and rebuked by a prophet of God for honoring his sons above the Lord.
Parental sins that must be avoided:
(1) Underestimating sin’s potential impact on your children (that’s stupidity)
There’s no age limit, no statute of limitations, for feeling the pull of temptation.
Satan considers no children off limits! Satan considers no children “unworthy” of his temptations and attacks!
He walks around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour!
(2) Confronting your children’s sin without dealing with your own (that’s hypocrisy)
Don’t discipline your kids about their language when yours is still filthy and/or laced with profanity.
Don’t discipline them about what movies they watch when your choices remain displeasing to the Lord.
Don’t jump down their throat about their friends when the ones you have are bringing you down.
Don’t scream at them about their Internet viewing habits if yours need to be radically changed.
Don’t try to provide guidance about their dating relationships when your relationship with your own spouse is not right and you’re flirting like crazy when you’re at work or out of town.
(3) Honoring your children above your Lord (that’s idolatry)
Eli honors his sons more than he honors God (verse 29). He wants his sons’ approval and affection more than he wants God’s approval and affection.
Our Lord Jesus made the matter of relationships crystal clear: Matthew 10:37 (ESV) — 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Parental wisdom that must be applied
(1) Teach and discipline your children from day one (and everyday thereafter)
Parenting and procrastinating is a perilous combination! Read and meditate on the following: Proverbs 22.15; 23.13-14, 24.
Indulgent, coddling parents usually produce spoiled, sinful children and later experience dreadful heartaches (cf. Prov 29.15).
(2) Increase disciplinary pain until the sinful behavior stops
Discipline is painful! At least it supposed to be! Painful to the child and the parent, to the disciplined and the disciplinarian.
The punishment does not always have to be corporal or physical in nature. As our children grow older there are ways to punish and inflict pain in many other ways other than a spanking.
Take the car away. Sell it if necessary!
Don’t let them play in the next ballgame(s).
Make them stay home on the weekend.
Take away Internet privileges, their computer, iPods, iPads, cell phones, etc.
Make sure the discipline fits the “crime.” If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not effective. There has to be a deterrent factor; something painful that will make them not want to go through it again. The pain of the punishment must exceed the pleasure of the disobedience.
Sometimes we’re just plain lazy! We don’t want to get up out of our lazy chair! We don’t want to be inconvenienced. We don’t want to stop watching the game.
(3) Yearn for your children’s salvation
This should be the number one desire of your parental heart! Nothing should be a close second. Yet, I’m afraid we often communicate to our children that other things are more important than the things of God. Things like making the ball team, getting the winning hit, getting into a certain college, making a certain amount of money, having a certain level of notoriety and popularity.
Pray earnestly for their salvation. Talk to them about salvation, about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(4) Put Jesus Christ and His Word on top of your family’s list of priorities
Say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24.25). Make corporate worship a priority (Hebrews 10.25).
Let God’s Word be the light unto the path of your whole family; a lamp that guides all your family decision making (Psalm 119.105).
Moms and dads, adopt Paul’s words say to your children, “Follow me even as I am of Christ!”