Recently our church has been wrestling with what it means to be “missional” — a family on mission together. My wife and I have been struggling with the same question, particularly with regards to raising our precocious (and sometimes rebellious) 3-and-5/6ths year-old son Rohan. I knew he needed to be more respectful and obedient, but (for whatever reason) I didn’t feel comfortable simply demanding that by fiat. As a result, we’d been more-or-less stuck on this issue for many months. For Lent, Respectful Obedience has become one of my top four requests (along with Emotional Connection, Sustainable Integration, and Viral Transformation).
Thursday night, I decided to pray about it while putting Rohan back to sleep after he woke me up at 1 AM. I felt God say I should look at how He dealt with his children: Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, etc. In most of those cases, God chooses someone, gives them an assignment, and then — after they’ve taken a leap of faith — He makes a covenant with them. In short, I need to start thinking in terms of discipling Rohan (teaching him to obey God) — rather than merely parenting Rohan (teaching him to obey me).
On the one hand, this shift feels a bit premature. Most curriculum I’ve seen tends to focus simply on teaching younger kids basic facts about God the Bible, and doesn’t engage in active spiritual formation until (at the earliest) seven or eight. The usual perspective (which I largely agree with) is that first kids learn to obey their parents and teachers, and only later learn to obey God.
Then again, the same could be said about Christian education in general, up to and including seminary. That was a key motivation behind my book Growing Church Leaders, which attempts to integrate knowledge, wisdom, and service into a holistic approach to Christian maturity and leadership. Maybe we need to rethink parenting as discipleship — and vice versa! — starting from toddlers on up.
Especially for boys. Many of the Rohan’s most annoying qualities as a toddler — impatience, self-will, righteous anger — are the same that would make him a great leader as an adult, if properly directed. I don’t want to squelch those passions, but it is imperative that he learn to master them.
Which brings me to Knight Club. The goal of Knight Club is to help fathers and sons learn to win’s life most important battles. To do this, we work together to train our heart, soul, mind and strength to reflect the image of Christ.
Right now it is just him and me, but I have a suspicion this is something that will appeal to many other fathers and sons.
I have grandiose dreams of curating a global curriculum with comprehensive gamification on becoming a mature man of God, but right now I’m starting with one Bible verse:
Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Interested? Stay tuned for more…
5 thoughts on “Knight Club: Where Fathers and Sons Learn to Win Life’s Most Important Battles”
You say in your post that you feel it’s *arbitrary* for a father to demand respect and obedience from his son. Yet I believe God holds us accountable as fathers to do just that!
God doesn’t need to explain to us why we should respect and obey Him. The nature of our relationship simply demands that we do. He is God and we are not. Should a father’s relationship with his young children not be the same? I certainly don’t feel compelled to give a strong rational argument to my young ones as to why they are required to respect and obey their parents. I feel it’s enough to say, “I am the dad, you are the child. Thus, you will respect me and obey me.”
And I’m convinced we need to not only disciple (teach them to obey God) and parent (teach them to obey me) our children, but also discipline (teach them the consequences of wrong behavior and attitudes) them.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)
He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. (Proverbs 5:23)
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. (Proverbs 10:17)
He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. (Proverbs 13:18)
If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! (Hebrews 12:9)
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines for our good, that we may share in his holiness. (Hebrews 12:10)
“God doesn’t need to explain to us why we should respect and obey Him.”
Yes, that’s true. Yet He does, most notably in the book of Job. I’m trying to figure out why.
You’re absolutely right, we don’t need to explain to our children why they should respect and submit to our authority, especially when they are young.
But I think we do need to explain it *to ourselves*, if only to understand how, why, and when that changes as they get older.
Do you have such an explanation? I don’t, yet, though I feel like I’m finally starting to make progress.
The motto of our home school is “raising adults”. We are preparing them for the rest of their lives. My rationale for training obedience is obedience is a skill of mind, emotion and will which will be useful for relating to legitimate authority figures including themselves. Yes, they learn to obey us, so that they can more effectively obey God… And police, teachers, employers, pastors, etc. the legitimacy of my authority like all legitimate authority comes from love: the care of the other. I love my children and will govern them to their good to the best of my ability. That is thwarted by rebellion which is why we don’t tolerate it. As you hinted at, the limits of my authority end when it is more loving to let my children govern themselves. This starts in small things and progresses until they are mature adults and can govern themselves entirely, including submitting themselves to God.
Thanks for sharing your blog with us on our Twitter page. If we can be of further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Not surprisingly, someone has beaten me to it, at least for those over the age of six. Wonder how hard it would be to adapt…
Beginning with a biblical perspective of manhood, Raising a Modern Day-Knight shares a unique approach to shaping a boy into a man. Applying the process by which a boy moved through the medieval stages of knight, Robert Lewis and Dennis Rainey identify parallel stages for today’s fathers.