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Four Letter Words

(This post was written by Michael Wallace, High School Pastor)

One of the most painful verses for a student to read in the Bible is Colossians 3:20 “Children, OBEY your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”  This has probably caused some tension in your home, and if we are honest, we all have an issue with obedience.  Here are a few reasons why it is so hard for students to OBEY.

  1. When I OBEY you, I ignore my WANT.  Since we all want what is best for us, obedience seems counterproductive to our very nature!  Strangely, this is one of the first things my kids learned to communicate: “I want…” and “That’s mine…”  To obey is to deny what I want in lieu of what you want.  That’s tough.
  2. When I OBEY you, I ignore my SELF.  As students grow, they develop this internal yearning to create their own identity.  While their identity has been wrapped up in being a part of your family, almost immediately they look for ways to distance themselves from you.  To obey you means that they must sacrifice their identity and see themselves as part of the family.  That’s normal.
  3. When I OBEY you, I give up my TIME.  For 99% of students, their time is not their own.  Between school, homework, and activities, very little of their day is unstructured.  Therefore, the time that they have is precious to them.  This makes it difficult in their mind to justify giving it up to do what you want them to do. To obey is to put myself on your timetable.

You may agree or disagree with these observations, but as a final parenting tip, let me remind you of Colossians 3:20.  The hardest hurdle for a student to overcome is the “WHY” factor.  They will feel entitled to know the reasoning behind giving up their WANT, SELF and TIME.  That’s where this verse becomes crucial!  The “WHY” is built right in! Why obey? Because “this pleases the Lord.”

I have found it helpful to make this part of our normal discussion with our kids.  If I wait until Colt is disobedient to discuss the “why” then I miss the chance to help him understand that we all obey because it pleases the Lord.  So, to OBEY is not about giving up my WANT, SELF or TIME, it’s really showing God another four letter word: LOVE.