Peter’s Counsel to Parents


Chapter 7—“A Godly Example in the Home”


In this selection Ellen White underlines the theology of parenting, which may seem to be an odd phrase. We are used to such expressions as the theology of righteousness by faith and the theology of the Sabbath; But to use the word theology in connection with the task of rearing or teaching children is not often done. PCP 50.1

Yet parenting has large spiritual implications. “There are few parents who realize how important it is to give to their children the influence of a godly example. Yet this is far more potent than precept. No other means is so effective in training them to right lines.” Again, Ellen White says, “When parents awaken to a true understanding of their neglected duties, they will marvel at the spiritual blindness that has characterized their past experience.” PCP 50.2

Children require daily spiritual attention. For one thing, their lives are changing too rapidly for mere once-a-week guidance. Each day foundation elements of character are being formed. PCP 50.3

But there's a second reason for daily spiritual help. A church with high ideals for its young necessarily has high standards. Now, if high or rigorous standards are left unexplained, if they aren't imaginatively adapted to a child's daily routine, they quickly become burdensome and oppressive to a young person. And a child may obey for a while. He may attempt to please a parent or a teacher or a pastor, but if he does so without enthusiasm for the church's standards and ideals, he is subtly developing the character of a rebel. In another place Ellen White warns, “A sullen submission to the will of the father will develop the character of a rebel. The service is looked upon by such a one in the light of drudgery. It is not rendered cheerfully and in the love of God. It is a mere mechanical performance.”—That I May Know Him, 120. PCP 50.4

In this reading God's servant notes the role played by Christ's life and sacrifice in teaching children cheerful obedience. Jesus’ sweet and optimistic treatment of individuals disarms those who think of God as a tyrant. “If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father,” the Master Teacher said. In all that He did, Jesus portrayed God and the values of His kingdom in an appealing way. Children who are exposed to Jesus’ life have an opportunity to learn to obey and to grow from the point of view of admiration rather than fear of God. PCP 51.1