Friday, September 16, 2011


Four F Parenting

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

Many believe that it’s harder than ever to be a good parent. I’m one of those. I knew everything about children until May 15, 1984. Then, John William Bagents was born and I forgot everything I ever thought I knew. I spent almost a decade as a youth minister. I knew everything – at least everything that mattered – about teens until May 15, 1997 when that kid turned 13. If you think that’s bad, I had to unlearn about half of what I thought I learned with John in order to deal with his brother, Allen. They’re not true polar opposites, but it’s still hard to believe those two boys came from the same gene pool. In so many ways, they’re as different as night and day.

Parenting is not a lost cause. It’s not a hopeless venture. We get a lot of help. It’s good to have Dr. Glen Wittig, head librarian at Criswell College, with us today. It wouldn’t do to have a man of his standing here without mentioning a few books that help parents. I like Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. I like that excellent Boundaries Series by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I like John MacArthur’s Successful Christian Parenting and that older volume, Parenting With Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Jay Kesler’s Emotionally Healthy Teenagers is such a solid work. But, if I had to choose only one book on parenting, you know which one I’d choose.

I will rely on that good book, the good book, this morning as we talk about 4 F Parenting.

  1. Fast. Start Fast. Start early. Start before you marry. Men, godly women like the one described in Proverbs 31 aren’t real common. “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Ladies, men who truly honor the teaching of Ephesians 6:4 are rare as well. “And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” You start parenting before you marry because your choice of a mate has so much impact on the rest of your life.

  2. First. Keep first things first. Matthew 22:34-40 is one of the strongest parenting passages in all of Scripture. A lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We don’t have a closer neighbor than our spouse. And, the children come next. Before work. Before school. Before others. If you doubt that there’s a vital link between loving God and training our children to love Him, just remember Deuteronomy 6. Remember Genesis 18:19, “For I have known him, in order that he cam command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” Abraham had a role in helping the Lord God fulfill his promises to him. Part of that role was parenting well.

  3. Fun. If you’re going to last as a parent, you better find and keep a sense of humor. Being the first book in Scripture Genesis is foundational is so many ways. Genesis 4:1, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.” This one verse reminds us how babies are supposed to be born; they’re supposed to be born to parents who are married to one another. It also tells us the attitude in which they are to be received: as blessings from the Lord. Perhaps Psalm 127:3-5 is the more familiar statement. I know that “happy” there carries the fundamental meaning of blessed, favored by God. But, who’s happier than the person who’s blessed by God?

  4. Faithful. There are no perfect parents. Even if you were perfect today and had it all together, it wouldn’t last. Kids change every day. They’re a constantly moving target. Some days they seem perfect. Some days they almost make you believe in modern day demon possession. The story of Legion from Luke 8. If it were demon possession, it would surely take more than one to account for all that they do. I know that even Proverbs 22:6 is not an absolute, iron-clad guarantee of how children will turn out. But, I do know how they tend to turn out if we don’t apply that verse. You know how it begins, “Train up a child in the way that he should go...” I can’t train my children if God in God’s way if I’m not letting God train me. Like most of us, children see better than they hear. They don’t just notice what we want them to notice. They don’t just learn when we want them to learn. They know faithful when they see it. And you can count on this, they also know fake.

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