“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant …”
How is your parenting? Are you parenting with a true servant heart? Are you raising children who will have servant hearts when they become husbands, wives, parents, employees or bosses?
Exodus 11 & 12
Parenting: Are you raising rulers or servants?
Selfishness & Self-Promotion
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.
21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”
22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
They said to Him, “We are able.”
23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
What a picture this passage is of our sinful, selfish nature apart from the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in our lives! Later we will see the change in the Disciples after the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them and the other believers for the first time.
But now the Disciples, who have been with Him for a large portion of His ministry, listening to Him teach and learning from Him, are still focused on themselves. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, grown men, either convince or allow their mother to come and ask Jesus if they can be His two top advisers when He starts to rule.
It’s obvious they still don’t understand the kind of a kingdom He has come to establish. The Jews expected their Messiah to come and overthrow the oppressive Roman government, but Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom.
The rest of the Disciples weren’t much better, “And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers” (v. 24). The text continues:
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (vv. 25-28).
I have to wonder if there wasn’t a bit of a sigh, a “Don’t you guys get it?” But instead, He explained how godly, Christian leadership should look.
No matter what we are called to do in the body of Christ, whether in our personal and public ministries, or in our personal, familial and secular lives, we are called to have servant hearts. That means we are to have servant attitudes in our marriages, with our children, with our extended families, in our neighborhoods, in the work place, and in the church.
How might that look in our parenting, for example? It does not mean we wait on them hand and foot and neglect teaching them responsibility. It means we cultivate a desire to teach them respect, responsibility, and obedience, not out of a desire to make our own lives easier or to look like successful parents to others, but out of our desire to see them grow up to be godly men and women.
Serving our children includes godly, loving discipline and doing it consistently, even when we’re tired and would rather keep watching TV. It means disciplining when you have worked all day and feel guilty about it, because you know it’s what they need!
Spoiling them, catering to their every whim, giving them every toy or gadget, always letting them do what they want, is not being a loving servant to them. When our children grow up thinking they are the center of the universe and “deserve” everything they can get, we have done them a huge disservice! In fact, we have sinned against them! Ask yourself, “Am I raising the kind of son or daughter I’d want to be married to, have working for me, or have as my boss?”
Part of our job is to help our children understand that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20.35) and that in losing their lives for God and others, true life comes (Lk. 9:23-24; Matt. 16:25). That will not happen just because you bring them to church or because they memorize all their Sunday school or AWANA verses!
On the other hand, being a servant to our children does not mean that we view them as our “little slaves.” It doesn’t mean we never give them that special toy or gadget. It doesn’t mean we always say “no.”
It means we must first be living out these truths ourselves, not perfectly, but walking in grace empowered obedience. They need to see us preferring others as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4), laying down our lives for God and others, keeping our word to our own hurt, and seeking forgiveness from God and others, including them, when we fall short.
Today’s Other Readings:
Exodus 11 & 12:
The First Passover
Here we see the institution of the Jewish Passover. God is about to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage. But before Pharaoh will let them go, there will be one last plague–death of the first born.
Each Israelite family was to sacrifice a lamb and put some of the blood on the frame of the door to their house. When the death angel saw it, He was to pass over that home.
Jesus, on the night before He was arrested and the events leading up to the crucifixion began, was in the upper room celebrating the Passover with His disciples. On that night, as He was about to become the final Passover Lamb, that celebration or ordinance became what we call “Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper.” It was changed because there was no longer a need for a sacrificial lamb to be slain to temporarily cover sin. Jesus fulfilled that need once and for all.
Praise be to the Lamb who was slain for you and for me!
Choosing to Love
This psalm begins “I will love You, O Lord, …”
I will love You. Love is primarily a choice and a commitment, not a feeling. This is especially true in our human relationships. Feelings of love will come and go, but if we stay faithful to our commitments to love in word and in deed our feelings will follow.
Feelings and emotions are wonderful gifts from God, but lousy leaders! As believers we must be lead by the principles of God and not our feelings.
Becoming Surety for Another
“My son, if you have become surety for your friend (v. 2) … deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter … (v. 5).
We should not take on other people’s debts by co-signing loans and the like. Not only is it unwise for us, but we are often getting in God’s way as He works in the life of the other person. This is especially true with our grown children. Co-signing and bailing them out of problems often only slows down their willingness to grow in responsibility and spiritual maturity.
So, how’s your heart? Is it the heart of a servant? If not, go to God; seek His forgiveness and, if necessary, go to others you have failed to love and serve and seek their forgiveness, as well.
How’s your parenting in this area? Are you raising kids who will be likely to have servant’s hearts?
Shepherding a Child’s Heart
Shepherding a Child’s Heart is about how to speak to the heart of your child. The things your child does and says flow from the heart. Luke 6:45 puts it this way: “…out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” A wonderful resource for raising children with servant hearts. For parents with children of any age.
Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica Thompson
How can you raise children who don’t become Pharisees (legalists) or prodigals (rebels)? It’s all about grace-filled, gospel-driven parenting. In Give Them Grace, you will learn how to connect the benefits of the cross—especially regeneration, adoption, and justification—to your children’s daily lives. The authors also discuss discipline, dealing with popular culture, and evangelism as a way of life. I believe you’ll find this book to be a great resource for raising grace-filled, Jesus-loving kids.
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