14 Secrets to Better Parenting: Powerful Principles from the Bible

14 Secrets to Better Parenting: Powerful Principles from the Bible

by Dave Earley

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620297131
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 05/01/2013
Series: 14 Bible Secrets Series
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Dave Earley is pastor of Grace City Church in Las Vegas, Nevada (www.gracecityvegas.com). He is the author of 18 books and serves as online professor for Pastoral Leadership and Evangelism for Liberty University. More importantly, he is the husband of Cathy and the father of Daniel, Andrew, and Luke.

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14 Secrets to Better Parenting

Powerful Principles from the Bible

By Dave Earley

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Dave Earley
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61626-225-9


Establish the Right Target

As I walked out of the hospital into the cool, late night air, my head was spinning. Moments earlier I had witnessed the miracle of birth and had experienced the amazing privilege of holding Daniel, our firstborn son. He was tiny, weighing six pounds two ounces. As I crossed the parking lot, I could not get the image of his little face out of my mind.

Myriad emotions swept over me. I was afraid, excited, ecstatic, humbled, and exhausted all at once. A numbing sense of responsibility pumped adrenaline into every step. I was keyed up and wide awake all the way home and through what remained of the night.


That little baby boy was depending on Cathy and me for everything.

I was now officially a parent. The words Dad, Dada, Poppa, and Father swam across my mind, as did some persistent questions.

What do I do now?

Can I really handle this?

Will Cathy and I do this right?

What if we mess up?

I began to search for answers. For the next couple of years, as two more little boys were born into our family, I read books, asked questions, and watched video seminars about parenting. Yet it seemed as if something was lacking.

Then I remembered the source from which I had discovered the answer to all truly important questions—the one book that alone explained the meaning of life and gave the best answers to questions about human nature, relationships, marriage, money, work, world events, and even the future. So I began to search the Bible to learn what God said about parenting.

Trusting the Ultimate Expert

Why shouldn't we view God as the ultimate expert on parenting? After all, He is our heavenly Father. And after all, it was He who created children, parents, and families in the first place. As the only eternal and everywhere present (omnipresent) being, hasn't He observed every family in history? As the all-wise, all-knowing God, isn't He alone the only One who fully understands every type of child, home, and parent? With such an expert available, why search anywhere else?

On top of that, God has not chosen to keep His expertise to Himself. Instead, He generously shares His knowledge with us in the Bible. This amazing, ancient book speaks with astounding timelessness and astonishing accuracy on dozens of subjects, including parenting.

Finding the Treasure Chest—and More

One summer at the church where I am the lead pastor, I decided to teach through the book of Proverbs on Sunday mornings. In order to lay a foundation for teaching, I began reading the Proverbs repeatedly. As I immersed myself in this divinely inspired book of practical wisdom and insight, I got chills, as if I had stumbled onto a buried treasure—but even better.

Woven throughout the dozens of pages of life lessons, I discovered ancient, fundamental, nonnegotiable parenting principles. These "secrets" have served as a common denominator of successful parenting for nearly three thousand years. When followed, these inspired insights produce wise children and happy parents (Proverbs 10:1). After mining the riches of Proverbs, I continued my search throughout the rest of the Bible until I had identified fourteen timeless secrets for better parenting.

The Test of Experience

I believe these secrets are trustworthy because they come from the Word of God. Furthermore, I believe in these principles because I have seen how reliably they have worked in the lives of dozens of families I have observed in my years as a pastor. Beyond that, I have confidence in them because of what I have seen in my own children.

It was more than twenty years ago that I first made a list of biblical parenting principles. You should know, however, that Cathy and I did not always follow these principles as well as we would have liked. Too often we learned the value of these secrets the hard way. Beyond that, each of our three sons has faced some rather unique and challenging circumstances. As a result, we endured some incredibly difficult times. But overall we did the best we could to practice these biblical principles.

Today we can humbly and joyously say that all three of our sons are living lives that honor the Lord. They will soon all be college graduates. All three sense a calling to vocational ministry, and at least two plan to become pastors. God has honored our efforts by giving us three amazing young adult sons. Praise His name!

God's Target for Parenting

The legend of Robin Hood conjures images of lush forests, brave men, evil villains, a beautiful woman, a generous hero, and long draw bows. Imagine a marksman so skilled that he could hit the dead center of the bull's-eye and then split the first arrow with his next shot!

Of course, anyone could outshoot the great Robin Hood under the right circumstances. Simply blindfold him and spin him around a few times. Obviously, no one can hit a target they can't see.

Better parenting begins by focusing on the right target. Do you know God's target for your parenting efforts?

You don't have to search the Proverbs long or hard before you will run into God's goal for children. In the first four verses of chapter 1, Solomon uses a variety of synonyms to make a single point: The goal is wisdom.

These are the wise sayings of Solomon ... written down so we'll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it's going; a manual for living, for learning what's right and just and fair; to teach the inexperienced the ropes thanksand give our young people a grasp on reality. Proverbs 1:1–4 MSG

The purpose of the book of Proverbs is to give direction to the young. In ancient Israel, children received most of their education at home. In adolescence, girls primarily learned domestic duties from their mothers, while the boys were placed under the tutelage of their fathers to learn character and the principles of effectiveliving inherent in the Proverbs. One word summed up the goal of all instruction: wisdom.

Get Wisdom!

Proverbs is unique in that it is written from the perspective of a parent giving words of encouragement and instruction to a child. For example, chapter 4 of the ultimate parenting manual opens with these words:

Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. Proverbs 4:1–2

Unlike most of the modern English translations, Eugene Peterson really captures the urgency reflected in the original Hebrew when the father cries:

Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don't forget one word! Don't deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her— she keeps her eye on you. Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Proverbs 4:5–7 MSG

Wisdom is the goal of life. It is the foundation on which all other decisions and behavior are to be grounded. Wisdom paves the pathway toward skillful and successful living. It frames a way of living that pleases God. Wise parents focus their parenting on developing wise children.

Secret #1 Establish the right target: wisdom.

Skillful Living

The word wisdom is found more than 120 times in the book of Proverbs. But what does it mean? In its purest sense, the word most often translated "wisdom" means skill, ability, expertise, competence, aptitude, or proficiency. For example, the same word is used in Exodus to describe the technical ability involved in making the garments to be used by the high priest (28:1–3) and the expertise used in crafting the sacred articles used in the tabernacle (31:2–5).

Proverbs uses wisdom in a much broader and down-to-earth sense to speak of skill in daily living. It recognizes that people make decisions, choose friends, determine behaviors, handle their money, work jobs, raise families, and go about life with varyingdegrees of proficiency. Proverbs provides the advice needed to handle all of these aspects of life more effectively. So wisdom includes common sense.

Beyond that, Proverbs adds a moral and spiritual sense to wisdom. True wisdom is God-centered. It involves godly integrity. In some cases, it is used interchangeably with righteousness. So wisdom also consists of character.

In sum, wisdom speaks of the ability to handle life with common sense and character. But there is more. Proverbs states that real wisdom comes from God.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

True skill in living begins with God and ends with God. The wise start by going to God and making Him central in their lives. They learn to see and respond to all of life from God's point of view. Wisdom is God's way of living.

Happiness and Health

In an informal survey of roughly one hundred parents, I asked, "What do you want most for your children?" Overwhelmingly, the most common response was this: "We just want them to be happy and healthy." If that is your goal, then let me assure you, wisdom is the path.

Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is the man who finds skillful and godly Wisdom, and the man who gets understanding [drawing it forth from God's Word and life's experiences].... {Wisdom} is a tree of life to those who lay hold on her; and happy (blessed, fortunate, to be envied) is everyone who holds her fast. Proverbs 3:13, 18 AMP

True happiness is always and ultimately the result of a right relationship with God and His world. It is an outcome of skillful (wise) living. It is seeing and responding to all of life from God's point of view.

Let me give you a word of caution though. Remember that wisdom is the goal; happiness is merely a by-product. Do not reverse that equation. Parents who make their children's immediate happiness the goal of their parenting are making a huge mistake. If happiness becomes the primary target, character flaws will go uncorrected and behavioral problems will be overlooked. The children will be spoiled and overindulged. The children will grow up lacking the ability to control their desires and failing toaccept and skillfully fulfill their responsibilities. The parents will inevitably neglect discipline, put off needed confrontation, and fail to gain the respect they need for truly parenting their children.

If you want to raise children who will become blessed and happy adults, focus your parenting on developing their wisdom. Help them start with God, continue with God, and end with God. Teach them to live skillfully with good common sense and godly character. Help them learn to see and respond to all of life from God's point of view.

Giving your children the gift of wisdom is a great gift indeed. Wisdom bears not only the fruit of happiness but also the fruit of vitality, sound health, financial stability, and honor.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom ... for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. Proverbs 3:13–18

Who wouldn't want their children to enjoy good living, health, financial blessings, and honorable recognition? They areall by-products of wisdom. Wise parents focus their parenting on developing wisdom in the lives of their children.

Miss All the Bad Stuff

No parents hold their precious little baby in their arms and dream that the child will one day die homeless under a bridge. They don't hope their child will have a series of ugly divorces or leave a trail of illegitimate offspring. They can't picture their sweet little girl becoming a prostitute or sticking needles in her arm as a drug addict. They never imagine their son growing up to rape an innocent young woman. They can't conceive of their little bundle of joy behind bars as a criminal. No Christian parents want their son to grow up to become a philosophy professor who delights in turning his students away from God.

Yet it happens.

One of wisdom's many benefits is that if a child gets on the pathway of wisdom and does not veer off, he or she will avoid many damaging and deadly detours.

Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many.... When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Proverbs 4:10–14

Elsewhere in Proverbs, we find that wisdom will protect children from living a life of crime (1:8–33), wickedness (2:12–25; 4:18), immorality (2:16–18; 5:1–14; 6:20–23; 7:1–27), laziness (Proverbs 6:6–11), and poor decisions (9:13–18).

Jesus Increased in Wisdom

The Bible has very little to say about Jesus' growing-up years. In fact, most of His childhood is summarized in two sentences:

And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.... And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:40, 52 (EMPHASIS ADDED)

Notice that the focus of Jesus' childhood was ... wisdom! I encourage you to make wisdom your parenting target. As you finish reading this chapter, put down the book for a few moments and pray. If possible, have your mate join you. Unite your handsand your hearts. Ask God to help you cooperate with His plan for developing wisdom in the lives of your children. Ask Him to help you be a wise person and to raise wise children. This is a prayer that God wants to answer.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV


Focus on Training

If you are the parent of young children, brace yourself for the inevitable—cuddly babies turn into challenging teenagers. As a parent who has raised three kids through the teenage years, I have observed a variety of priorities among parents.

Some work to promote their child as a future supermodel or professional athlete. Others push their children to get straight A's. Some seem to make it a priority to please their children. Others focus on providing all of their kids' needs and wants. Many see their job as protecting their children from any and every harmful or negative influence.

What does the Bible say our priorities should be as parents? Where should our focus be? What does God expect us to do?

The corrective lens of Proverbs brings parenting back into focus.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Our focus as parents must be on pointing our kids in the right direction. We must deliberately and diligently prepare our children to live lives of wisdom.

Secret #2 Focus on training your children to walk in wisdom.

What Does It Mean to Train Up a Child?

Training children to walk in wisdom involves guiding, teaching, showing, encouraging, coaching, correcting, and supporting them as they learn to make their way in the world. The remaining chapters of this book will focus on twelve essential elements of good training: laying a proper foundation (chapter 3), setting a good example (chapter 4), understanding the main obstacle (chapter 5) and correcting it (chapter 6), communicating (chapter 7), praying (chapter 8), getting your children involved in ministry (chapter 9), teaching them God's Word (chapter 10), encouraging them (chapter 11), dedicating them back to God (chapter 12), and leading them to experience God for themselves (chapter 13). And when all else fails, more prayer (chapter 14).

Training is an active, intentional, involved, varied, cooperative, directed, flexible, ongoing, and rewarding process. Let's examine this process in more detail.


Excerpted from 14 Secrets to Better Parenting by Dave Earley. Copyright © 2011 Dave Earley. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1.   Establish the Right Target

2.   Focus on Training

3.   Lay a Proper Foundation

4.   Set a Good Example

5.   Understand the Problem

6.   Correct the Behavior

7.   Communicate

8.   Pray for Your Children

9.   Partner in Ministry with Your Child

10. Teach God’s Word

11. Encourage Your Children

12. Offer Them to God

13. Teach Them to Experience God for Themselves

14. When You Have No Other Option, Keep Praying!

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