This article is excerpted from Raising Kingdom Kids by Tony Evans.
In Scripture, honor and respect are first spoken of with regard to parents. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (ESV).
God has an order established in all that He does, and He works through that order. In the home, the mother and the father have the responsibility of raising the children and the children have the responsibility of honoring and respecting their parents. When you disregard God’s order, you invite damage to come into your life. When you go around His way—or dishonor His way—you enter into His consequences.
For both children and adults, how we respond to God’s established flow influences how God will respond to us. When Adam and Eve responded to the devil in the garden and violated God’s order, it affected how God responded to them. Some of us as adults have not responded to the way God has arranged things to flow; we failed to make the connection, and now we wonder why we have troublesome issues in our lives. We see our children disrespecting us, and this is a reflection of our own disrespect for our parents.
Let’s look at a biblical case study of how God feels about dishonor and how He deals with it. It’s an unusual story, found in 2 Kings 2:23–24. The prophet Elisha was being dishonored and cursed by a group of young men:
Then [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by
the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to
him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” When he looked behind
him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then
two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of
The word used here indicates that these were not little kids being irresponsible. These were older boys who were, in effect, cursing God’s prophet. And their disrespect brought death. The reason so many children are dying in the streets is because they have never learned honor, and it’s costing them their lives. They look only to each other as examples because there is a lack of parents who hold their kids accountable to this kingdom principle.
Let’s say you have two sons, one fifteen years old and the other ten. You tell your fifteen-year-old son that he can go to the movies but he must be home by 11:00 p.m., but instead he comes home at 4:00 a.m. You get upset with him and tell him not to do it again, but he continues to break his curfew anyway, and he continues to get away with it without consequences. By failing to address the rebellion in your older son, you are potentially encouraging rebellion in your ten-year-old son. Rebellion that is ignored only leads to more rebellion—and not just in one child. As the younger brother watches his sibling rebel without accountability, he will learn to do the same. That’s why instilling honor and respect as virtues within the home is so important. If you fail to do this, a wave of disrespect grows as you move on down through the ages of your children.
God takes honor very seriously. Look at another passage that spells it out in detail. What did Israelite parents do when they had a rebellious child who refused to obey them? The Mosaic law was very specific:
If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his
father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even
listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring
him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown.
They shall say to the elders of his city, “This son of ours is stubborn
and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.”
Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall
remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.
This passage is not talking about misbehavior. All children are going to misbehave. This is talking about serious, deliberate, long-term rebellion. Children, especially teenagers, need to know that they cannot live any way they want and expect to cruise right along with no consequences.
Parents, remember that honor flows out of a heart of respect; establishing that respect mindset in your children is critical. It doesn’t always come through physically disciplining them. This is important, because all children are different. Out of our four kids, one got spanked far more than the others, and one hardly got spanked at all. I had to discover the best way to communicate to each child.
Parents, disciplining your child goes far deeper than an action in one moment. It’s an ongoing process that instills in them a respect for you so that when they deviate from the right path, their hearts will be tender and they’ll want to get back on it.
As the Bible says, “We had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them [for it]” (Hebrews 12:9). Proper discipline naturally creates respect, as God intended. My father’s first name is Arthur, but I would never call him that. To me, he’ll always be Dad. And when I used to take my kids to visit him during the summer, I always came under his authority. My age makes no difference. That’s the kind of respect that I have for him.
Parents, remember that proper discipline takes time and effort on your part. We need to make sure we have all the facts straight before we act. We have to make time and put forth the effort to discipline when there are a million other things we would rather do, like put our feet up and relax at the end of a long, hard day. It’s also vital that we combine our discipline with love. I would often follow up grounding, spanking, or lecturing one of my children with a hug, telling that child that I loved him or her. I wanted him or her to both hear and see the heart from which the correction came.
Teaching respect and honor requires something else, too: a long-term perspective. At the moment when discipline is needed, it’s not pleasant for anyone. But you must see beyond the moment. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful,” we read in Hebrews 12:11. “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (NIV).
God has an eternal perspective in disciplining us, Hebrews 12 reminds us, with the goal of making us more and more like Christ. In the same way, be careful not to simply think of your sons and daughters as the boys and girls that they are now, but rather as the men and women they will one day become. Consider the quality of relationships they will one day have because of the honor and respect you instilled in them at a young age. They need to know how to honor and respect themselves, their parents, and those around them in all that they do—in their words, actions, and even in their thoughts.
Parents, when we’re inconsistent with our discipline, when we favor one child over another, or when our children observe us treating others with dishonor and disrespect, we make it difficult for our children to respect us. Although the command for children to honor their parents is all-inclusive of children, I believe that one way to help your children to honor you is by honoring them. If you want your children to give you honor and respect, honor and respect them, too, by setting a good example and being consistent in your words and actions.
Raising Kingdom Kids by Tony Evans
From the bestselling author of Kingdom Man and Kingdom Woman, Raising Kingdom Kids equips parents to raise their children with a Kingdom perspective and also offers practical how-to advice on providing spiritual training as instructed in Scripture.
Dr. Tony Evans begins with an overarching look at the need for Kingdom parenting, our roles and responsibilities in raising God-following children, and how to prepare children to take on the assignments God has for their lives. He then takes a practical turn, with examples and illustrations to help parents understand and provide specific training for kids in the power of prayer, wisdom, loving God’s Word, getting through trials, controlling their tongues, developing patience, the surrender of service, and much more.
This book is for every dad or mom who wants to fulfill the parenting role God has given them—not just in raising healthy kids intellectually, physically, and socially, but in contributing to their child’s relationship with God and alignment under His plan.