Andy Peck trawls through the Bible to find the top verses every Christian parent should know
From the start, let me acknowledge that picking verses is a dangerous game. I know that texts have a context and God has spoken via books, not tweets! So you will have to trust me that I have checked the context and not sought to manipulate the text to say what I want it to…
But these verses give a feel for some key themes for Christian parents and there’s not a ton of them to look at. So here’s my selection.
1. Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
You will need to remind yourself that’s the little darling who is just being such a pest is made in the image of God! We could have a long discussion about what being an image bearer means but at the very least the Genesis account shows how God’s intention was that Adam and Eve would have a real powerful impact upon the world showing his love and goodness through their offspring and through their creative endeavours. Your role is to delight in them as image bearers and support all that God is looking to do through them.
2. Exodus 20:12: Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
You may not always feel honoured by your children but God included ’honour for parents’ as one of his top 10 commandments and this is the only commandment with the promise namely that we would know longer life. The family unit was seen as the heart of the life of Israel with respect for those who gave us birth an essential truth, and a model for how all people should be treated.
3. Deuteronomy 6:7: Impress them [the laws] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
The powerhouse for the living out of God’s gracious law to these former slaves was the family unit and the place where God’s law was understood memorised and believed. This was every parents’ responsibility and though we are now under a new covenant of grace we have a similar responsibility to help our children obey the commands of Jesus summed up by him as ‘Love God and love your neighbour as yourself’. The verse suggests this be a normal part of conversation so this needn’t be a ‘cringefest…’! Chatting normally, sharing life’s ups and downs and how we struggle with our faith sometimes, alongside chat about TV, sport and hobbies works. But don’t outsource this task to church or youth group. Their eyes are on you, whether you like it or not.
4. 1 Samuel 1:28: I now I give him [Samuel] to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there
Not every parent would have the anguish that Hannah had in having to wait so long for her child, Samuel. But her sentiments in presenting Samuel to the Lord for his service are ones to emulate. If we are followers of Jesus and make him Lord of all then this properly includes our children who we oversee care for and love but who ultimately we dedicate to God that they may fulfil his purposes in the world. They are ‘ours’ and they are God’s too!
5. Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
There is a detailed explanation of this verse here. The verse is not a law and we must not beat ourselves up if our children drift away, but it is a reminder of the importance of our active involvement in our children’s life. We think nothing of finding a maths tutor, a piano teacher or a golf coach if we want to improve our child’s performance and in the same way our careful patient, gracious modelling of daily living and urging them to live wisely too, is a vital part of the parenting task. It is worth the hassle long term.
6. Luke 18:16: But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”
Jesus overturned the norms of society in his acceptance and welcoming of children and whilst some parenting approaches seemed to be pandering to the child’s wants and not providing any discipline at all, this unconditional acceptance by Jesus must be our pattern within the local church and the family unit. Jesus goes a step further in encouraging all adults to see that a child’s trust in his father is a wonderful metaphor for our trust in our heavenly father and that this is a key dimension in Kingdom living.
7. Matthew 28:19,20: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Yes this is two verses but a sentence crosses them! Jesus did not look for converts but for apprentices to him and this is the ultimate task for every Christian parent. Children may say, ‘yes I believe’ while in the family home, but the wholesale imitation of Jesus can be a tougher journey for them, even if it is the very best way anyone can live. The family unit is a great launchpad for this even if most of us need the wider church and other adults to support us in the process. As such we have our L plates on too as we seek to follow Jesus and learn from one another, including from our children, how best to do it.
8. Ephesians 6:1: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right
The word ‘obey’, in context, simply means ‘to listen to or attend to’ and so the apostle urges children to give appropriate attention to their parents. An implication here is that children obey ‘in the Lord’ . They obey in part because of the parents’ connection to God and their ability to be gracious and firm towards them as God himself is. Hence the need for parents to parent out of their Christian convictions, learning humility from the Lord themselves and seeking to nurture a similar approach in their children.
9. Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Fathers are mentioned as the ‘head’ within that Patriarchal society – I take it this includes mums and any who care for children. Parents can be annoying and especially when the stream of unpleasantness seems to be going in one direction from their children to them it is very tempting to fight back and be as unreasonable as parents as our children are being to us. But this verse encourages us to take a deep breath, remember who the adult is and be gracious in our response to any reasonable request to support them and care for them, remembering that we are primarily seeking that they are instructed by God.
10. Romans 12:6: We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
Our education system emphasises the need for our children to discover their unique contribution in life.. But this verse in Romans reminds us that talents and abilities are God-given and has his Holy Spirit works with us so we can accomplish much beyond our natural effort. So be on the lookout for what God is doing and seek to support that in any way you can: arranging your life so that priority is given to gathering with other Christians and developing the sort of character that’s the foundation for any person to flourish.
The great news is that when ever God gives a command, he promises to provide the power to obey it. You never work alone.