Our God is a God of absolute authority. He rules supreme. He’s the Creator, the Most High, the only Lord in heaven and on earth: there’s simply no other besides Him. Because God has made humankind in His image, aspects of His authority run through humanity. We have dominion over every living thing and every aspect of society is characterised by some sort of authority.
All human authority comes from God. It is by Him for a purpose and is to be exercised under His rule and in His way. Human positions of power or influence are not ends in themselves. They have been given so that we can serve and bless each other in the same manner that the Lord serves and blesses us.
Whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. Whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28
God’s fatherly authority is meant to be exercised in families through husbands and fathers. It is their holy function to accept full responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the family.
The husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church. Ephesians 5:23
God delegates His divine headship to fathers and husbands. He expects them to care spiritually for their wives and children, and to do this in His serving way. Husbands and fathers should accept their true position as His delegated head of the family. When they neglect this spiritual responsibility, or the wife usurps it, the whole family is robbed of God’s blessing.
This does not mean that men should act in an authoritarian way. Far from it! They are meant to exercise their spiritual responsibilities in Christ’s servant manner. Too many men have tried to use the Scriptures to justify ordering their wives and children around. Yet the Bible never instructs husbands to give orders to their wives. Instead, it keeps on commanding them to love their wives, and to love them in the same sacrificial way that Christ loved the church – that is genuine headship!
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25
This can seem rather hard for single mothers, and for men and women whose partners have left them. How can a husband love his wife when she’s living with another man? And how can a family live under God’s headship when the father is missing? Although families are robbed of the physical blessings of companionship and finance when marriages collapse, they don’t need to lose any spiritual blessings. Husbands can go on loving their absent wives by speaking warmly of them, by praying for them, by acting well towards them, and by waiting for their restoration. Isn’t this how Christ loves the church, which so often grows cold and leaves Him? God has given deserted wives and single mothers some special promises for their families:
You are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. Psalm 68:5
The Lord relieves the fatherless and the widow. Psalm 146:9
God promises single mothers that He, the ultimate Father, will act as the father in those families where the earthly father is absent. This promise, which is repeated many times in the Bible, guarantees that no single mother need miss a single spiritual blessing.
Within families, God has not only delegated the Father’s spiritual head-ship to human husbands and fathers. He has also delegated His more general Trinitarian authority to both earthly parents. God has instituted parenting for the godly nurture and blessing of children. Parents are meant to care for their children in much the same way that the Godhead cares together for the whole creation. Ideally, parents work together co-dependently in the same way as the Father, the Son and the Spirit work together – with different functions and distinctive commitment.
Parents are God’s representatives to their children. And He wants Christian parents to establish their homes according to His biblical standards of sacrificial love and merciful discipline. Children growing in this sinful world need to be taught God’s boundaries from the beginning. And God has appointed both parents to do this.
God’s holy command to all children is this:
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Colossians 3:20
The parents’ delegated authority couldn’t be clearer. Children are to obey them “in all things’. This means, of course, that parents have a greater responsibility. They must be good examples and representatives of God’s nature and standards.God’s word to fathers takes this even further.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:21
It’s clear that parental authority can be abused -and this is a serious offence before the Lord. One of the worst things that a parent can do is discourage a child through bad parenting.
Parents either under-discipline their children rarely correcting them, or correcting them inconsistently. Or they over-discipline them treating them harshly and repressively. Neither way is right. God wants all His children to be brought up in the loving training and admonition of the Lord.
The best way to bless your children, my friend, is by giving them the parental nurture and discipline they need. Sadly, many parents go wrong. When you discourage and wound your children, you can create resentment and dangerous attitudes. Your only solution is to confess your failure to the Lord and to your children. Ask them for their forgiveness, and then begin again God’s way. Let your children see their need to forgive you for your sin against them. This will release the blessing of God’s healing and freedom into your family.
Harsh Words Damage Lives
Children can be damaged for life when their parents abuse their authority. Harsh words spoken rashly by a father or a mother can function like a curse over the child. Often it is such things as, “You’re useless! You’ll never amount to anything good!’ Or “You’re stupid! Why can’t you do better at school?’ It is impossible to exaggerate the damage that such words cause children. It is not just the words themselves but the power and authority which lie behind them.
If you are guilty of saying harsh and negative words in your parental office, repent now before the Lord. Revoke the words. Verbally cancel them out. Ask God to break their power and seek your children’s forgiveness.
God’s Work Blesses Lives
There is, however, a positive dimension to this. God gives parents their authority in order to bless their children. And God has ordained parental blessing for the prosperity and spiritual well-being of children. It is time to learn how to pass on this blessing.
The Old Testament patriarchs knew the rightness and power of parental blessing. When Isaac’s time on earth drew to a close, he wanted to pass on his blessing to his first-born son, Esau. When he realised that he had been tricked into blessing Jacob, Isaac was distraught. He knew that the blessing had been activated and could not be revoked! That’s the power of parental blessing.
When Jacob blessed his children, he spoke a clear word over each son. He had a special blessing for his youngest and for his grandsons who had been born in Egypt. They were full of prophetic content and God honoured Jacob’s parental blessings – they all came to pass.
As a believer, God has given you the same parental authority. Wait on God for His prophetic word for your children. Ask Him for wisdom. Don’t try to manipulate these things. It is the Word of the Lord that you want – God’s will, not yours.
Your children are a special trust from the Lord and you are accountable to Him for their welfare in body, mind and spirit. The Bible calls you to raise your children to go the way that the Lord has for them – not the way that you want them to go! That is what this well-known verse means.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
The three-fold priestly blessing from the book of Numbers is the greatest blessing that God has given you to use.
The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
As a believer, you are a priest and as a parent, you are called to function as a priest in your own home. Priests were called to represent the people before God in intercession, to make sacrifices, and to pronounce blessings in the name of Israel’s God. This is your calling as a parent. Pray for your children. Pour your life into them sacrificially. Speak God’s Word over their lives and bless them regularly with the words that God gives.
Israel’s priests also had a governmental and educational role among the people of God. In the same way, Christian priestly parents are called by God to do these things in their homes. A well-ordered household, which prays together and learns the Word of God together, is a household where God’s abundant blessings will be experienced and enjoyed – and will begin to overflow to others.
Pause now to think about your children, and the way that you treat them. Ask God to show you what action you need to take. Then make this prayer declaration to God.
“Heavenly Father, I take my place as the earthly father/mother of my child(ren).
“In the name of Jesus, I revoke any negative words that I’ve spoken, and all the negative attitudes I’ve held against my child(ren).
“I now pronounce the blessing of God over ……….. (name them all).
“I announce Your blessings of goodness, joy and peace to them, in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.”