My dad, Brian Tenny, is back! This week, he is going to share 4 of the purposes for the family as he does in his book Raising Homemade Disciples.
This is my absolute favorite part of his book–seeing him breakdown some of the parenting essentials in a holistic way. I’m not much for behavior modification parenting books, or parenting books in general, really, but his approach here is to look at the Scripture and God’s design from a long range standpoint to help give us perspective during our day to day battles.
WHY the Family?
Early in our parenting years, we took our three-under-five camping in the mountains. After getting them settled in their sleeping bags in the tent, Judy came out to find me staring catatonically into the pathetic fire. When I finally spoke, it was a simple but rhetorical question: “What is it that God thinks is so great about children?”
Over time that profound question stalked my thinking, and evolved into my own answer to the larger question, “Why family?” What was God’s design and purpose for families? I knew that Judy and I had been a family before baby Shane ever came along. The foundation of the family is the committed relationship of husband and wife to each other and to God. This fact from Scripture becomes more politically incorrect by the day, but research and statistics bear out the truth that God’s plan simply provides the best environment for children.
So I believe that’s God’s #1 purpose for families – to show His love in and through the daily work of forming two selfish people into one. I could easily fill pages with stories of my last 42 years working through that process, but let’s move on to the meat of my book.
Once children come along, the challenges multiply. The responsibility of shaping little lives can be totally overwhelming without some long-term sense of a goal in sight. For starters I compiled this simple list titled, “Essentials before age 7”:
- Say “please” and “thank you”
- Don’t hit, shove or take other people’s stuff
- Eat politely and thank the cook
- Don’t fuss about helping
- Share with your brother(s) and sister(s)
- Look both ways when crossing …
I’m sure there were more, but you get the idea. These are the kind of things most folks sweat over when the kids are little. Eventually my list would include something about bad words and how to treat the opposite sex.
One day as the list grew, I scanned the whole scroll of it. That’s when I realized it really dealt with a small handful of basic categories. In the grand scheme of things, our job as parents is a relatively short assignment. We have a limited amount of time to accomplish what needs to happen under our roof. So I simplified my list to four basic areas that I wanted my children to really “get” before leaving my home. They’re the “by-products” of two earlier essentials: honoring Christ and living by the Word of God. These four basics are:
- Authority – The principle of authority is woven into every human sphere, so it’s essential for children to have a proper and healthy understanding of it. They must know how to function under authority, regardless of personalities, and even when they inevitably find themselves unjustly treated.
- Discipline and Authority are closely related – which explains why discipline is usually meted out by those in authority! That’s the training aspect of discipline, and the reason why self-discipline and self-control are so key to a fruitful and productive life.
- Ownership is my word for the basic understanding that life and everything we have is a gift. God owns it all, not me. I’m just a manager. He trusts me to handle things in a way that brings the most honor to Him. This is a huge area of teaching for our children, and can be great fun! As they discover it personally, it will impact the way they use and share their possessions.
- Finally, children’s social development determines so much of their success in life, because life happens alongside other human beings. The child who is equipped with skills and awareness of his/her social conduct generally excels beyond those around them. Helping children conduct themselves with sensitivity toward others is key to thoroughly equipping them for life.
To say this was an epiphany for me would be an understatement. Once you grasp the importance – the responsibility – that these key purposes place on you as a parent, I hope it will sober you to begin drawing on God’s grace as never before. There’s just no other place for children to properly gain their solid foundations than a family context. Let me explain …
- Authority – God intends the family to be a place to learn healthy, respectful relationships in each sphere of our lives, reflecting our respect for God and His sovereignty.
- Discipline – God planned the family setting to teach right response to correction and training from those in authority over us. Only when we develop teachable hearts will we recognize our sin and be willing to receive God’s forgiveness.
- Ownership – The family setting is God’s ideal place to learn proper stewardship and generosity with all that God trusts to our care, so we’ll also demonstrate His generosity towards us.
- Social Development – It’s plain to see God’s wise plan that the home environment be the place to learn skills for living harmoniously with others. Why else would every family include such variety and diversity? God specializes in bringing together those who might more naturally be drawn apart.
Each of these is developed further in my book, and I’ll hope to explore a bit deeper in future blogs of this series….
MY COMMITMENT It’s my desire to let God work in my family to accomplish His purposes in my marriage and in my children’s lives.
MY PRAYER Lord Jesus, I need Your help and Your love for each one in my family. Help me with my role in each of their lives so You can do Your work and teach all of us – together – to see You at work in our home, making us like You. Thank You Lord – amen!
 Ephesians 1:20-22, Colossians 1:15-19, Romans 13:1-7
 . Hebrews 12:5-10, Proverbs 13:1, 24; Ephesians 6:4
 Luke 12:42; 16:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:2, 1 Peter 4:10, Matthew 25:15-29, 1 Timothy 6:17-18
It SO helps me to think through which of those four purposes I’m working on in my every day parenting.
Rachel, my long time friend, fellow blogger, and conference roommate, YOU HAVE WON a copy of the book!
PLEASE comment, review the book, and share this post on social media. My dad’s wisdom should not be missed! It’s priceless. 🙂 (But you can get a sneak peak for only $5 a Kindle copy.)