Our example for learning obedience is found in how Jesus was subject to His own parents, and in so doing, to His Father in heaven. As our children learn obedience to earthly parents, they are also obeying their own Father in heaven. As 1 Peter tells us, we are all to be obedient children and become like Him in holiness so that we might be holy in all “conversation [anastrophé],” that is, behavior.

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16).

We want our children to grow up and be able to do what Jesus did: to see what God was doing and do the same thing. Even as an adult, Jesus did only what He saw His Father do. That is a worthy goal for myself as well:

“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).

5. Jesus Increased in Wisdom and Stature and Favor with God and Man

Jesus was not only filled with wisdom, but He increased in wisdom as He grew up into a man. And as He grew in wisdom, He also grew in favor with God and man. This is something I pray over my children: that they would grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. I want them to be like Jesus. I want them to live and move and serve like Jesus. I want them to worship God and hear His voice like Jesus did. I want them to experience the same relationship with their Father that Jesus has with His.

In John 17:1-42 Jesus is praying to His Father and asking that His disciples would know and experience the same love that the Father has for Him. I also pray that my children would know that God loves them with the same intense love He has for His only begotten Son. I must intentionally tell them often of God’s great love—and then show them what that looks like by loving them—even when it is hard or painful or the opposite of what I feel like doing at the moment. Loving the unlovely or disciplining in lovingkindness or repenting for anything not like Christ in me is a sign of maturity; to do otherwise is babyhood on my part. If I want my children to grow up, I must lead the way and grow up myself in the wisdom and favor of God. I must do the hard, time-consuming things that all of life wants to distract me from, as I teach and train and nurture children in the Lord.

My 3-year-old son wants me to read to him, but he wants me to skip the words and just tell him about the pictures; he’s not really interested in the depth of the story. That’s how some of us read the Bible: just tell us the highlights and the stories we know well. We don’t want to hear anything that makes us have to think—we have enough devices to do our thinking for us. Instead of using our own minds, we carry our brains in our pockets or electronic devices. If we truly believed the Word of God was our very life source, we’d pursue it like we pursue food or Facebook. But we don’t truly believe, since we’ve become so distracted by the less important “pictures” of life and don’t have time for the depth of the story.

We really need to put aside the childish things and become disciples who raise disciples, not merely teachers who raise students. We must put aside all hypocrisy and truly follow Christ. We must start with the sincere milk of the Word and graduate to the meat: