If you are going to parent your teens biblically you have to
teach to the heart. Heart centered discipline is Gospel based discipline. Even
if your teen is unregenerate you should still teach, rebuke, correct, and train
in righteousness at the heart level (2 Tim 3:16).
Teach them what it means to glorify God by how they live
their lives. The only place you will learn this is in God’s Word, so you will
have to spend plenty of time there yourself to learn what to teach them.
When you have to rebuke your teen, be sure you are rebuking at
the heart level. Very often we rebuke
our children because their behavior irritates us, or because they have
displeased us. Even worse, we tell them
things like, “God is so disappointed in you” or “You have hurt God by that
action.” That is nothing more than
piling on the guilt and is not a biblical rebuke. Realize that when you lay on the guilt this does
very little to bring about sorrow unto repentance.
Rebuking them biblically involves accountability. The teen
must be accountable for their sin in whatever the matter is. It also involves
asking questions intended to provoke thinking not emoting or feelings. If you
don’t know what to ask or how to ask questions that reach the heart I suggest you
follow the Genesis 3 model. Do what God
did, ask questions for the purpose of accountability.
When God asked Adam, “Where are you?” He didn’t ask because
He didn’t know where Adam was. God is omniscient and was fully aware of where
Adam and Eve were hiding. God asked Adam
where he was because He was looking for accountability. When God asked, “Did you….?” with respect to
eating from the tree, He didn’t follow up with “Why did you do that?” In fact, as you read through the questions
that Jesus asked in the New Testament, how many of them were “why”
questions? (I will let you discover that
answer on your own.)
Just like God did
with Adam, you can call your teen to account for his or her actions and affect
them on the heart level. Heart level questions affect beyond the emotions and
may bring conviction into a person’s life.
Then you must move to correction which is a central part of
discipleship as is the next point, training in righteousness. Too often parents issue edicts of “stop that”
without addressing the biblical principle or training the teen in what to do.
Remember to tell your teen that biblical
discipline is not punishment. While
some form of discipline such as loss of privileges like driving the car, having
a cell phone, or using the computer is painful and may feel like punishment it is not intended to be. It is also worthy of saying that at this
point in life, any form of physical discipline won’t be very effective and will
humiliate and embitter the teen.
A biblical rebuke and correction approach the sin from a
spiritual perspective and show the teen God’s message about their sin. It is intended to bring them to godly
repentance, not worldly repentance.
Training in righteousness requires the element of TIME and
the place parents really, really struggle in engaging their teen. This is usually
because they have not previously built much of a relationship with their child
through the years. If you have very little relationship with your child going
into the teen years it is not realistic to expect them to want to spend time
with you, they are in the process of further detaching and moving forward in
If you want to speak into their lives you have to have their
hearts. You also have to enter into their world to train them. You must take an
interest in them as people and speak to the heart. Training them is an investment-
and you will fail if you make it an “add on” in life. This has to become a
priority and may demand sacrifice on your part in giving up activities or even
your job. I have seen too many parents set their kids on autopilot and expect
them to just “know.” It won’t work! You
have to be a daily part of the kids’
lives, (which is why I am such a strong advocate for home schooling) if you are
going to see the heart attitudes that have to be addressed.
This is not easy, but hey, no one ever said parenting was
going to be easy. It is not for the faint of heart and maybe there are times
you really regret parenthood because it is just so hard! I understand, but I must say, the biblical
responsibility remains with us. No one
else is responsible for raising our kids. Whether we like it or not, God
instructs parents to be the primary influence in the lives of the children He
entrusts to them.