By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Honor is a biblical concept. Yet very few people teach children how to honor the people in their lives. We are taught to honor veterans and people of the military. Yet, kids watch as marriages crumble and divorce and members leave churches for unbiblical reasons. It's no wonder the world is a divided, tumultuous place.
Jesus honored his father by spending time with him, doing his will, and sacrificing his wants and needs for God's. He honored people by sacrificing himself so that they could make their way to the father and have their sins forgiven. The Ten Commandments also speak about honor when it says: "Honor your mother and father." But how do we teach honor to children and have respect for parents and authority figures? Here are five ways to teach honor to your children:
1. Don't Make Them an Idol
While it is important for parents to listen and value their kids' opinions, the parents have the final say. Parents do not owe their children an explanation for why they make decisions the way they do. Teach your kids from a young age that the spouse comes first. You only have eighteen years with your children, but with your spouse, it could be a lifetime. Let your spouse understand that they come first, and make unified decisions based on what the two of you decide. By allowing your kids' opinions to rule your home, you're telling them they are superior to your authority. Kids can have a say in choices on food, vacations, holiday spending, etc. But major decisions like moves, major purchases, etc. should be left up to the parents. Don't allow your kids to become the ultimate authority in your home.
2. Don't Use Kids to Meet Emotional Needs
People pleasers spend their lives trying to make people like them. This may include their children. They may allow them more freedom than they need or let them make decisions that are not in their best interest simply because the parent would rather be liked than be the ultimate authority in their lives. Parenting is hard. My parents don't raise their children to be liked, kids need to know that you are a safe environment, but at the same time, they need to know their boundaries. Parents are there to put those boundaries in place. If kids don't know their limitations, they look to their parents to tell them. When they don't have parents that do the job of setting firm boundaries and limits for them, they do them a great disservice. This shows within them an entitled spirit. Kids grow up to be spoiled adults who think everything revolves around them. They whine and treat people poorly because they don't get their way.
As a parent, you must constantly be doing the soul work necessary to make sure you are as healthy an adult as possible. This includes dealing with past issues and pain you may be stuffing because you don't want to deal with them. Do your family a favor and make sure you do the work necessary to ensure you are the healthiest person so that when they come to you with problems, you can be a source of wise counsel for them. You need to be a person whom they can trust to tell them the truth and help them make wise, healthy choices.
3. Set the Example
The Ten Commandments list honor your mother and father as a commandment for a reason. It is the only commandment with a promise: "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." By honoring God and his promises, we also honor our children when we help them make good decisions so they may live long, healthy, abundant lives.
While this is true for every aspect of their lives, including financial issues and relationships, etc., none is more important than their spiritual life. Teach them from a young age that regular church attendance, prayer, and Bible reading are all essential aspects of spiritual growth. Children live what they learn. If they see you praying and reading the Word, they will know how much you love the Lord and how much you want to honor him with your daily life.
4. Honor Yourself, Your Spouse, and God
You demonstrate honor whenever you value your spouse's opinion. You honor your spouse when you put them first. You honor your spouse when you sacrifice your comforts and luxuries for the sake of someone else's. If you set the example of how to honor the people in your life, your children will learn to honor them as well.
This especially goes for your relationship with God. God doesn't want empty words. He wants us to honor him with our actions. The world is watching what we do, especially when we claim we are Christians. If we honor God by doing our best to set a Christ-like example to people, they will quickly understand the presence God has in our life. There is no greater testimony of faith than your life.
Not only should children honor the people in their lives, but they should also honor themselves. This means respecting and valuing their bodies and physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This means saving money and giving generously to demonstrate the relationship God has in their lives. These are all important because as they seek to honor themselves, they will also seek to honor others. Ephesians 5 verse 29 speaks to this: "After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body."
5. Teach Them Integrity
Living with integrity is not just a public display. Integrity is who you are when no one is watching. It's about doing the right thing even when it's hard and at significant risk and loss. Honor is a synonymous mentality. Honor means going the extra mile, being counted on and reliable in every situation, and doing more than expected. Teach your kids from a young age to go and love and beyond for the people in their lives. This may mean holding them accountable when they don't do chores or get a bad grade. Accountability is not always fun, and instilling consequences when a bad choice is made can often make you the bad guy. But in the long run, as they get to be an adult, they will realize how much you were trying to teach them to be good, healthy adults.
Take a moment and examine your life right now. In what areas are you falling short in terms of honoring the people in your life? Do you not honor your spouse as you should? Do you tend to dismiss your children or ignore them rather than value their opinions? It's never too late to break bad habits and get into better ones. Honor God with your life, and he will bless you in immeasurable ways.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.