Most parents, believers or not, want their children to be respectful. That is often the reason I hear most parents give for why they desire to raise their children the way they do. “I just want them to grow up to be happy and be a respectful person who contributes to society.” There is nothing wrong with that…as long as those are not the primary motivating factors.
Happy; yes. Respectful; yes. Contributor; yes. But are these the most important building blocks to a child’s life? No. These positive results need to be founded upon something much larger, namely, the glory of God.
Paul gives us a little insight into this reality in Romans 13:1. He says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” Though this command is not directed specifically at children, and is valid toward all people, there is a fundamental reality that helps us in our parenting.
Paul goes on and explains why we must obey this command. He says, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” This truth is our confidence in praying for, and submitting to, authority. If we trust God, then obeying this command should be much easier to swallow, especially if you don’t agree with the current governing authorities. But there is also something very significant for your parenting here.
Just as we adults need to trust God in submission to our authority, we need to teach our kids submission to us, their parents, their authority. By parents submitting to God-ordained authority, we teach our children by example that they also need to submit to us, even when they disagree.
The key element in your teaching here is to convey what Paul says in the second half of the verse, that our authorities are set by God, and ultimately accountable to God, and therefore when we submit to them, we are submitting to God, and therefore glorifying him.
Pray that your children would be respectful to their God-given authorities. That includes you, their church leaders, their government, police, teachers, etc. Ultimately, you can teach your children these truths in words, but they are best copied when they are exampled in action.