Submission to authority is one of the primary disciplines that parents must teach their children. Even in submitting to the seemingly little commands of parents, children learn important truths that will better prepare them for a fulfilling and happy life. However, the main reason we should teach our children about submission is to help them understand the necessity of submitting to Jesus and His absolute, good, wise, and loving authority. Furthermore, we must teach and model that submission to Jesus and His ways does not quash our joy—it enables our joy.
As parents and teachers, we ought to be very careful and intentional in communicating this important concept to our children and students. As we rightfully impress upon them their need for Jesus’ redeeming work—trusting in Him alone as Savior—we must not neglect to also highlight Jesus as Master and Lord. All who truly trust in Jesus are called to learn from Him, submit to Him, and follow in all His ways. This is a life-long endeavor for the Christian. It is a call to grace-dependent, Spirit-empowered discipleship.
Getting Practical—Here are a few texts to read and discuss, and questions to ask your children:
- Jesus’ Authority—Read Matthew 28:18; Revelation 4:11; 19:16. What do these verses tell us about Jesus’ authority? Could someone say that they love and trust Jesus as their Savior, but they don’t need to actually follow and obey Him as their Master and Lord? Why wouldn’t this make sense? Read and talk about 1 John 2:3, 6.
- Learning from Jesus—Point out that the best teachers teach their students by not only teaching with words, but also by example. Ask: Can you think of some of the things that Jesus taught His disciples? Some of His commands? (Also, you could read a few verses from Luke 6:27-28, 35-36) In what ways did Jesus give us an example to follow, too? How did He do what He commanded? Why is this helpful for His disciples? But is it still difficult for us to follow at times? Why? Are there things in our life that make us less or more likely to want to listen and obey? Is there anything that can help us?
- Jesus is a Compassionate Master and Teacher—Briefly share an example of a harsh teacher or boss—one who “lorded over” his students or employees by making unreasonable demands. Is this the type of Master and Lord that Jesus is? Read and talk about Matthew 11:28-29. Do you see Jesus as a kind of Master and Lord? What does this show us about who He is and what He is like? What does He also know and understand about us? Does that mean He doesn’t care about our obedience? What is a yoke? Do Jesus’ disciples still need a yoke? Why? But what kind of yoke does He give His disciples? How can this help us see the goodness of submitting to Jesus—how is submission for our good?
- Submitting Your Will to Jesus—Read and talk about Matthew 16:24. Give an example of a command from Jesus that is often hard to submit to. Suppose your brother or sister took your new game to a friends’ house without asking you. When he or she brought the game back it was missing pieces. What might be your first reaction? What if he or she says she’s really sorry and will go back and find the pieces? Jesus says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Why might it be hard to submit to this command? What does it show us about our hearts? Is submitting to Jesus optional—something to do only when it’s not too difficult or when we feel like it? When we are struggling to submit to Jesus, what might be helpful to remember about Him?
- Following Jesus Wherever He Leads Us—Read the story of Simon meeting Jesus from Luke 5:1-6. At the end of the story, Jesus called for Simon, James, and John to follow Him. What did they leave behind in order to follow Jesus? [everything] What does that mean? Explain that following Jesus means that you love Him most of all so that you listen, obey, and follow wherever He leads you. Does Jesus lead His disciples along the exact same circumstances? Point out that Jesus later gave Simon the name, Peter. Does anyone know what Peter did later in life as a follower of Jesus? [became the leader of the early church, suffered persecution for being a Christian, etc.] Did Jesus also give us an example of enduring great suffering? Peter followed Jesus’ example—even to his death. Can you think of other people who followed Jesus even through very hard circumstances? How can their example help us? What gave them the strength and determination to keep following Jesus?