Last Saturday, i.e. on 13th March, a seminar was held on “Healthy Family Dynamics”, addressing especially on parenting. Although being in an embryonic stage in the field of parenting, the Lord has blessed me with the gracious privilege to speak on this topic. After uncle Joy David and sister Hazel delivered their lecture, encouraging the participants on healthy parenting, I was left with only few minutes to share my message. Considering the short time I had, I gave up the message I had prepared and was inspired in my heart to speak to parents on honoring their parents. In my extensive study on parenting, I have observed that this aspect is mostly unaddressed by many.

One of the instructions we find in Ten Commandments is to “honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20:12). This is also cited by Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise—that all may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (6:1-3)

We often suppose this commandment applies only to little children, teenagers and unmarried young adults. However, this commandment is as important to parents as it is to children. Parents have parents too. We are still children to our parents even after becoming parents. Having children of our own doesn’t obliterate us from being children to our own parents. Mind you, we do not retire from honoring our parents once we have children.

No matter what our age and stage, we ought to honor our parents in the following aspects:

a) Speak with respect: In our prospering age in technology, there runs one prospering tendency towards parents, and that is disrespect. As people are growing and aging, respect towards parents is also declining. I seldom witness parents speaking to their parents with respect, and much worse, the way they speak to their parents before their children leaves a pathetic example.

We people may earn more than our parents, get more education than our parents, thrive more than our parents, but remember—they are still our parents, those who gave us birth, and we need to honor them. Dishonoring them is to dishonor God, the Father of all creation.

The Lord has convicted me of my own sin when I used to speak with disrespect to my mother. I have learned in the Lord the value and necessity of speaking to my parent with respect.

Even when our parents commit mistakes, it is our responsibility to correct them with respect, not to discipline them like children.

Besides, I cannot see my parents being disrespected by others and would offer a word of correction to treat them with respect. Honoring parents includes respecting them and protecting their respect.

Well, how do we speak to our parents? Do we converse with them with respect? Are we polite in our talk with them? Do we yell, sound harsh, and behave inappropriately with them? Do our children learn from us the right manner about how to speak to parents? How unfair it is for parents to expect from their children to treat them with respect while they themselves behave disrespectfully with their parents!

b) Stay in touch: In our transition from dependency to independence, particularly after marriage and bearing children, we are not free from the obligation of honoring our parents. The fact that “a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife” (Gen. 2:24) doesn’t mean abandoning them. It reveals the transition of that close attachment from parents to wife. Although his/her own family becomes priority, children (adult parents) must forever be grateful to their parents, stay in touch with them and care for them as they age.

No matter where we are and what we do, staying in touch with our parents and inquiring and caring for their well-being is an important aspect in honoring our parents. In our busy world with too many activities, parents are often ignored and are left alone without proper attention. Loneliness is one of the toughest times aging parents undergo. They are not just disrespected but also are neglected.

When I go out of station on a ministry trip, I make sure to daily call my children and speak to them. My heart yearns to hear their voice, as they call me with excitement “Papa”. One day I was convicted in my heart about how much my mother longs to hear me when she doesn’t see me for a while (my papa passed away in 2003). Shouldn’t I call her and speak to her too? What a joy she gets when hearing my voice! The way we long for our children should be a reminder to us about our parents yearning for us.

Are we honoring our parents by staying in touch with them? Do we visit them occasionally and spend time with them? Do we call them frequently and find about their well-being? What example are we setting to our children about caring for the emotional well-being of parents? Neglect our parents and we will have our children grow by neglecting us.

c) Support: To the tradition-centered people of His day, Jesus rebuked them for withdrawing material support from their needy parents and justified their sin by offering gift (Corban) to the temple. They nullified the word of God for the sake of tradition (Matt. 15:3-6). In His rebuke to them, Jesus implied that honoring parents include supporting them physically.

If parents are not in a position to support themselves, it is the responsibility of children to contribute in helping them. Doing so is not a burden but a blessing. God is pleased with such honor. Of course, we may have our own pressures and responsibilities, yet we should make every effort possible to help our parents – after all, haven’t they took pain to bring us up in this world?

It breaks my heart to see some parents being abandoned by their children. After squeezing all that their parents have earned and possessed, they are thrown away by children who are morons. They are left to live by themselves in their old age. They suffer without material help while their children enjoy living with their own family. God will judge such self-centered children. Let us not neglect to carry the burden of our parents who carried us in their arms and our burdens on their shoulders.

Finally, may I let you know that how we honor our parents is how our children are going to honor us. The way children learn to treat us is by their observation of how we treat our parents. Remember, our children are constantly watching us—our words and our deeds. What we are to our parents is what our children are going to become for us.

Would we be proud to have our children become like us in honoring parents? Is our life worth imitating by our children in obeying the command of God, “Honor your father and mother”?

Father in heaven, forgive us our sin of dishonoring parents. Have mercy on us and transform us to honor our father and mother. May our children learn from us about what it is to honor parents. In honoring our parents may we realize that we honor You and glorify your Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.

(The seminar really did go well. People were convicted and touched by the Spirit of God. Some have come and shared how the message was a blessing to their hearts. Soli Deo Gloria!)

Stephen David