“Triggered” is a word gaining popularity in our culture. I remember a time when it was not part of common language. Now it seems very common. It generally means that something has stimulated a powerful emotional reaction from the person who is “triggered.”
In their recent book, Triggers: Exchanging Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, authors Amber Lia and Wendy Speake make use of this concept. This is a book about parenting and the things that trigger anger in moms and dads.
The authors divide our triggers into two categories: external and internal. External triggers can be things such as whining, disrespect, backtalk, sibling rivalry, irresponsible behavior, video game addiction, and other such things. These are behaviors we see in our children that really push our buttons. Internal triggers can be stress, lack of faith, exhaustion, challenging relationships, noise, messy homes, feelings of guilt, and others. These have to do with me as the parent and situations or habits that make it more difficult to handle my anger.
Recently I had the pleasure of teaching a class for moms at my church in which we discussed this book. While this was a parenting book and gave practical advice for various situations, it was much more than that. The focus of the book was mainly how I, as a mother, walk with Christ in my parenting. The authors shared many Scriptures that made me stop and take a hard look at myself. However, they also never left their readers in despair of our inadequacies. They always brought us back to the Gospel. There is always hope of redemption available at the cross of Christ for the parent. I’d like to take this opportunity to share some general Biblical parenting principles and concepts from the book with a wider audience. I will expound upon these in a future post.
MORALISM: A TRAP TO AVOID
First some general principles that I’d like to share. Moralism is the idea that if one behaves well, then one is good. But Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We ALL fall short. No one is perfect and we all need the redeeming work of Christ.
Even our children who are more naturally compliant need Christ to save them from their sin. And we really shouldn’t be shocked when our “good” kids eventually blow it. They are imperfect sinners in need of grace just like the rest of us. Just like you, Mom or Dad.
GOSPEL PARENTING VS. BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION
Our goal as Christian parents is not to have children who simply obey us without question. There are many methods of altering a child’s outward behavior. Some of these have merits of their own, but they don’t go far enough. Our true goal is to teach our children to love Jesus and obey Him.
Out of this deep-rooted heart change will come all those lovely behaviors we desire of them. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the things that come out of the heart of a follower of Christ who has been radically changed by His love.
THE DEUTERONOMY MANDATE
So how do we teach our children to love and obey Jesus? If we go way back to the Old Testament, we can find what theologians (Bible nerds) have dubbed the Deuteronomy Mandate. We find it in Deuteronomy 6:4-7. “Hear, O Israel: the Lord your God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Notice God starts with the parents. We are first commanded to love God with all that is in us. After the teachings of God are on our hearts, then we are to teach them diligently to our children. We teach them when we go walking (or driving) along the road, when we sit at home, when we lie down, and when we rise. The idea is that we are teaching them all the time in everything that we do. How we live and relate to God and our kids constantly teaches them about God and His law.
Are you teaching your children about the grace offered to them through the cross? Do you show them the mercy that God has shown you by not exacting immediate consequences every time they mess up?I’m not suggesting that we never discipline our children. We certainly need to teach them proper behavior both Biblically and socially. That is part of the Deuteronomy Mandate. The question is how do you, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, etc., react when the kids push your buttons? Do you blow up? If you find that you have trouble containing those volcanic eruptions, this blog series and book will be excellent resources for you. Please stay tuned for the rest of my guest posts and look into the book, Triggers, by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake.
Let me give you some homework too, if I can be so bold? It always helps to put into actions what we are learning. Mission #1: at least once this week, share the Gospel with your children when you have to discipline them for misbehavior.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.