In Part 1 of this series, we talked briefly about teaching our children to live as servant royalty — to use their princely positions to bless and assist people, instead of tyrannizing over them. Sons and daughters of the heavenly King are to live by what James 2:8 calls “the royal law,” to love our neighbors as ourselves.
However, those who are not part of God’s royal family don’t necessarily live by that law, and unfortunately, some of the King’s children have never learned to abide by it, either. All through life, our children will encounter bullies, both in the world and in the church — those controlling folks who try to get their way through manipulation and intimidation. We need to teach them how to navigate their relationships with these people in such a way as not to succumb to the fear of man. Proverbs 29:25 tells us, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”
When we clearly understand that we have full rights as adopted sons and daughters, and that we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), this knowledge helps to insulate us from giving in to intimidation. Bully the prince or princess? Seriously?
But, we must help our children discover how to walk out their freedom from intimidation in an attitude of calm, wisdom, and grace, rather than reacting to intimidation with behavior similar to the bully’s. While they do not have to submit to being trampled, the Lord’s way is still to maintain kindness. Proverbs 15:1 is as true today as it was when Solomon wrote it: “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
Knowing when to respond firmly with level-headed coolness and when to avoid confrontation altogether takes practice. It also takes staying sensitive to the Lord, so that we know when to speak up and when to let it go. This is one of the very “rubber meets the road” ways that we walk out Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Our children won’t mature into this overnight, and we need to review the concept with them often, as well as help them walk through situations as they arise. After all, this is difficult for those of us who are adults, too!
Our best example of how to handle intimidation is Jesus. Read with your children the passages in the gospels where Jesus interacts with the religious leaders, and also how the apostles handled the same kinds of situations in Acts 4:1-21 and Acts 5:27-29. Balance those stories with what Jesus said about turning the other cheek and blessing those who abuse us (Matthew 5:38-48).
The main thing to get across to our children is what their inner attitude should be, when encountering intimidators. They can respond gently and graciously, and yet know that they are not under the thumb of someone else. We can teach them to stand tall when others try to humiliate them and not receive those taunts into their hearts. And, we absolutely must remind them to forgive, letting go of offense before it takes root inside. Bullies can make outward difficulties for us, but they cannot really rule us unless we give them that permission in our minds and emotions. Children of the King, who know their family connection, are inwardly free from the dominion of anyone but their Father in heaven.
This concludes the series on bringing up royal sons and daughters. I hope it has provided some ideas for how to help your children realize who they are in Christ, and how to walk out their royal heritage in fullness and fruitfulness.
Sonship in God’s family is such a vast subject. What has God been showing you about it? How do you plan to instill those ideas in your children? I’d love to hear from you!
Previous — Part 3