How we as parents respond to authority, models for our children how they too should act. They look to us for our example.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people--for kings and all those in authority--that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
This verse is convicting. In a world that seems to be falling apart, these words speak loudly into the darkness. As Christian parents, seeking to raise children who will grow into a vibrant and practical faith, what do we do with a teaching such as this? How do we apply this wisdom to our comments about political leaders, upcoming elections, or those who may oversee our daily work? What are our words teaching our children about how our faith might inform our actions?
Timothy directs us to pray for those in authority. And the direction is not explained away nor is it qualified. It does not say to offer prayers, petitions, intercession, and thanksgiving for those with whom we find ourselves in agreement. Instead, it is simply stated that it is our mandate to do these things for those who are in authority. This is one way that we can live peaceful and quiet lives that are marked by godliness and holiness.
But this is often not the path we choose. In a society that is marked by pointed, frequently nasty, online exchanges, we are critical of those in political office and denounce the work they do. We complain about our boss, our pastor, or the committee chair. We mock political leaders and assign to them wicked motives because it makes us feel more righteous. And all of this is done with our children nearby, teaching them that this is the way to respond to conflict. This is the way to see and evaluate our leaders. This is how Christians talk behind closed doors.
Perhaps we feel a sense of helplessness in the midst of so much trouble and our critical nature rises up from a place that claims we have no say. Scripture tells us not to fear, but we feel helpless. We feel powerless to effect change, frustrated with the direction we see life headed, angry with leadership that seems to be headed astray. That powerlessness is an earthly emotion, however, because we have access to an Omnipotent God who not only sees our chaotic surroundings, but also wants His will to be done on earth. Fear will not solve our problems, it will only magnify them.
Reflect on what impact we could have on the lives of our children if they saw us take our frustration and worry about political directions or leadership and shared it in prayer to God. If we trust that God is in control and is bigger than our problems than this should be a natural response. What would our children learn if, after a particularly jarring news story, we clasped hands and bowed heads and prayed to our all-powerful God for resolution, for healing, and for peace?
Our words and our actions have the ability to heal or to harm. It is a choice. It is a choice toward or away from peace, from godliness, from holiness. And inadvertently, we may be leading our children down that same path.
Our response to authority teaches our children how to respond to the authorities in their life. These authorities includes their parents and even God. Choose to respond to authority with grace and compassion.