Do your children ever assert their own way? Did that last question cause you to laugh out loud? Of course children assert their own way; selfish gain is a characteristic of immaturity.
In 1 Samuel Chapter 8 God’s children demanded to have their way. They wanted a king to rule over them rather than submit to God’s appointed leadership. Now remember, God had provided for His children, the Israelites, in every way and had shown them that their request was not His best for them. Sound familiar? Sometimes our children beg and whine for what they think they want rather than accept what they truly need. But, we can learn from the mistakes of the Israelites.
In 1 Samuel 8, verses 5 and 20 the Israelites reveal their motive for wanting a king to rule over them. The people rejected God as king because they wanted to be like all the other nations. The Israelites were only thinking about the immediate, apparent pleasures of having a king rather than the potential long-term consequences.
The Israelites’ demand reflects another quality of spiritual immaturity: short sightedness. Parents, do you recognize when your children display symptoms of spiritual short sightedness?
Symptoms of spiritual short sightedness include: demanding to have one’s own way without considering God’s best, focusing on temporal satisfaction rather than eternal benefits, and failing to consider possible undesired consequences.
Let’s return to 1 Samuel 8 to find the remedy for spiritual short sightedness. Samuel was displeased with the Israelites’ demand for a king and took his concerns to God. Verse 7 tells us: And the Lord told him (Samuel): “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. When you choose to parent using godly principles, you are pointing your children to the truth of God’s character and His Word. When they choose to reject your requests that are based on biblical truth, they are not rejecting you as their parent, but rejecting the Lord’s authority in their lives.
There’s more. In verses 9-18 God instructs Samuel to solemnly warn His children, the Israelites, concerning the consequences of their independent choice. Parents please don’t miss this: Just as God provided His Word in advance to His children in the Old Testament, He provides His Word to us today. Each believer has the ability to either take heed by walking according to God’s instructions, thereby escaping undesired consequences, or he can choose his own path and experience inevitable disappointment and loss. The lesson for us, as parents, is to solemnly warn our children, in advance, concerning the consequences of ungodly choices.
In addition, it is wise to teach your children that God sometimes gives those that demand their own way what they ask for, even when it is in opposition to His will. 1 Samuel 8:21-22: When Samuel heard all the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” God will sometimes allow His children to suffer the natural consequences of their desires and actions in order for them to learn from their mistakes.
When your children assert their own way, help them to examine their focus: is it on self or Christ? Ask Christ-centered questions to assist them in determining whether their request is self-fulfilling or God honoring. Point out to them the potential consequences of personal choices. Pray that God will give each of your children an eternal perspective in life situations, as well as the desire to do His will. Then choose to rest by trusting God with the results.