One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.
— 1 Timothy 3:4
As parents, we have a responsibility to train and prepare our children to be successful in life, and there is no better classroom for teaching them the responsibilities of life than in our own homes. God expects us to teach our children how to conduct themselves, how to respond to authority, how to cooperate with others, how to work as a part of a team, and how to successfully execute daily responsibilities. By giving our children this kind of training, we prepare them for the real world where they will one day be employed and make a living.
This issue of properly training our children is extremely important. In First Timothy 3:4, the apostle Paul wrote that leaders are to set the example in this area for everyone else in the church. A leader must be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.”
Today I want to focus on what Paul said about how children should behave. What he says applies to all children, for there are no double standards. We are commanded by God to train, teach, prepare, and equip our sons and daughters to victoriously enter the arena of life.
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Paul says that our children should be “…in subjection with all gravity.” The word “subjection” comes from the Greek word hupotasso. It means to set things in order or to be subject to someone else, and it strongly suggests the idea of obedience to authority. One expositor notes that this word implies a subjection to authority that can happen voluntarily or that can be required by force. It is important that Paul uses this word when speaking to parents, for it affirms that parents have the right to exercise godly authority over their children. If children don’t voluntarily submit, parents have every right before God to force their children to obey.
Further confirming the strength of the word hupotasso, this word was a military term that was used to describe soldiers who were under the command or authority of a superior officer. As with all soldiers, they knew who their superior was; they understood how to respond to that superior officer; they knew their own place, function, and assignment in the army; and they understood both the rewards for obedience and the penalty for disobedience and disrespect. Let’s consider how this example of a soldier in the military applies to the training of our own children.
First, a soldier never questions who his authority is. He knows from the first day who is in charge and to whom he reports. Having this knowledge clears away any confusion about whom he is accountable to. He has been given clear instructions about who is the boss, and this sets things in order so he never has to wonder who is really in charge.
Likewise, parents need to make it clear from the time a child is young that Dad and Mom are the ultimate authority in the home. When a parent doesn’t exercise authority and lets a child get away with whatever he or she wants, it brings confusion into the home.
Set things straight by making it known to your children that you are assuming your godly role as the leader of your home. By teaching your children to respond correctly to your authority at home, you are preparing them to respond properly to their future employers.
A soldier understands his daily responsibilities. For example, no soldier in the army wakes up and says, “Gee, I wonder what the sergeant will ask me to do today?” The soldier knows that certain responsibilities are regular and routine. He understands that he is expected to fulfill these basic duties each day — duties such as making his bed, combing his hair, grooming his face, shining his shoes, and wearing clothes that are pressed.
Likewise, your children need daily duties to teach them responsibility. By using the word hupotasso, Paul is telling us that, like soldiers, children need daily discipline — including responsibilities that are required and expected of them each day. This kind of “basic training” helps children understand the realities of work, the responsibilities of life, and how to be a part of a team.
It is my personal view that it’s wrong for a parent to make a child’s bed, clean up his room, pick up his mess after he showers, and wash his dishes after he eats while he sits and watches television. This kind of “schoolroom” represents an unrealistic picture of life for the child. In the real world, no one will do everything for him when he’s an adult. He’ll get a big shock when he goes out into the world and suddenly discovers that no one is going to be easy on him in the workplace and that he has to carry his own weight of responsibility.
If a soldier fails in performing his basic duties, he knows beforehand that it will result in some kind of penalty. By using the word “subjection” (hupotasso), Paul embraces this picture of military order that includes rewards for a job well done and penalties for poor performance.
Rewards are very important as you teach your children. Rewards become goals and aspirations to help motivate a child to achieve bigger and better results. Teaching this to your child at home will help him later when he gets a job and wants a bigger salary. He will understand that to receive better wages, he will have to put out better work. Teaching our sons and daughters that nothing comes free in life is imperative if we want them to be blessed as adults.
But as important as it is to give your children rewards for a good performance, it is also important to give them penalties for a poor performance. Why should a bad job be rewarded? Will your children be rewarded for a bad performance when they go out into the workplace and get a job? Of course not! Therefore, it is part of your parental responsibility to ingrain into your children the principle that good work reaps a good reward, but poor work produces undesirable consequences. That doesn’t mean you have to berate them for unsatisfactory work. You just need to take the time to lovingly explain and demonstrate how different levels of work are rewarded differently.
It is amazing that all these concepts are concealed in the Greek word hupotasso, translated in First Timothy 3:4 as the word “subjection.” Unfortunately, we live in a day when parents are afraid to be the authority in the home as God has called them to be. But you have no need to be afraid. God has designated you to be a leader and a teacher for your children. If you don’t assume this place of responsibility and teach them the necessary principles for success, who will prepare them for life?
So follow God’s pattern of parenting. Give your children responsibilities to regularly perform. Make sure they understand the rewards and penalties for not doing what is expected. Do everything you can to help prepare your children for a successful, disciplined life. When they grow up and begin to work in the real world, they will thank you for investing your time and love into preparing them for life!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I thank You for speaking to me about teaching my children the responsibilities of life. I want my children to be godly and successful, so I want to lead them and teach them from the Word of God. I know that my personal example is the strongest message I have to preach to my children, so help me be real and authentic, not hypocritical in my Christian life. Parenting is such a huge responsibility that I must have Your help to do it properly. I look to You and Your Word to guide me as I rear the children You have placed in my care.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I declare by faith that I am a godly parent and I lead my children in the way of righteousness! I am not afraid to step up to the plate and take my leadership role. I do it boldly, proudly, and reverently, realizing that this is one of the greatest honors and responsibilities of my life. I recognize that my children are gifts from God, and I treat them with the greatest respect as I teach them how to become successful young adults. With the help of God’s Spirit and the guidance of His Word, I am doing exactly what I must for my children to be anointed, godly, and blessed.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. What impact did your own parents make on your life? Did they prepare you for life, or did you go out into the world feeling like you were totally unequipped for living on your own?
2. What are you doing right now to teach your own children how to be prepared for life? Do you require daily duties of them and hold them accountable for how well they perform the jobs you have assigned to them?
3. As you look at your own children and their attitude toward life, toward work, and toward authority figures, what changes could you make in your own leadership style in order to produce better results in your children?