The BIG IDEA
Honoring our parents is a way to obey God and grow in our relationship with him.
Not all of us have the perfect parents or a perfect relationship with the ones we have. But, no matter what our family looks like, God has called us to treat our parents with love and respect.
We are self-focused and sinful and want to do things our way. We don’t want people to be in charge of us, so we rebel, disobey our parents, and do our own thing. Not only are children sinful, but parents are sinful too and when parents are sinful, children suffer. Some of our parents have hurt us and caused deep wounds that only God can heal.
Humble ourselves by surrendering to God and honoring our parents even when it is hard. Ask the Holy Spirit to give us power to honor them even if they haven’t been the best parents.
Why THIS MATTERS
God has given us our parents to love, teach, and guide us as we grow into adulthood. They are the single greatest influence in our lives, whether positive or negative. We honor God when we treat our parents with respect, humility and love.
I WANT MY STUDENTS TO:
- KNOW: God gave us our parents and we are to treat them with respect, humility, and love.
- EXPERIENCE: Joy as we recognize our parents as a gift from God. Peace, as we forgive our parents’ mistakes and trust God to be our perfect parent.
- DO: Humble ourselves, surrender to God and honor our parents even when it is hard. Ask the Holy Spirit to give us power to honor them even if they haven’t been the best parents.
The idea box is a place where you can find some creative ideas for leading this study. You might find videos, activities, or great illustrations that really bring the main point home. The ideas come from small group leaders like you, so if you have an idea that isn’t in there, click below to share it with the community!
*WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Who are your favorite parents from movies or T.V. shows?
- Who are the worst?
As students think of good parents, ask them what they like about them. As they think of negative parents, ask them what is so bad about them. Try to make it fun and come up with some crazy ideas of your own. Some thoughts are parents from Disney movies, Darth Vader, The Simpsons, etc.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?
*Our relationship with our parents is one of the most important relationships in our lives, but it looks different for all of us. Some of us live with our biological parents, some of us don’t. Some of us have two parents who care for us, others of us were raised by a single parent, grandparent or someone that isn’t even related to us. For the sake of this study, when the study refers to your “parents,” it is talking about whoever is raising you, but feel free to answer the questions about anyone you might call a parent.
*1. Everybody’s relationships with their parents are a little different. On a scale of 1–10, how would you rate your relationship with your parents? Why?
Go around the room and let everyone share. When they give you a number between 1–10, ask them, “Why would you give that number?” and let them share a little more. Be aware that this exercise, for some students, could be painful and they may prefer not to share. That’s okay.
2. What do you want to be like as a parent someday?
Allow the group to discuss. Help them dream about what they want to become, but try to keep any parent bashing from happening. A lot of their ideas of how they want to be as a parent may result from a lack of that quality in their own parents. Encourage their answers – even say, “I could see you being a really good dad/mom!” or “I’d like to be that kind of parent too.”
3. How do you want your kids to treat you when you are a parent?
Allow the group to discuss. By putting them on the other side of the parent/child equation we are helping them put themselves in their parents’ shoes a little bit. It might help for you to ask a follow-up question, “If you were your parents, would you like the way your kids treat you?”
*4. Let’s see what God says about how parents should be treated. What do the following passages say about honoring and respecting your parents? Ex 20:12, Proverbs 10:1, Ephesians 6:1, Mark 10:19, Proverbs 13:1, Proverbs 1:8
Have each of your students look up a verse and read them aloud one at a time. Have the reader put each verse into their own words. Have someone sum up in one or two sentences what all the verses say.
*5. What does it mean to honor your parents?
- Why should we honor our parents?
It means willingly giving them respect, not because they are perfect but because God put them in authority over us. Note: honor is not the same as obey. This will come up more in one of the last questions, so if this comes up, try to postpone the conversation until then.
6. Why is it sometimes hard to honor your parents?
Allow the group to discuss. There are a few different answers here. For those who have “godly” or “good” parents, it’s just hard to honor and obey because we are sinful and want to do things our way! This makes it difficult to submit to the authority of others. For any students whose parents are making poor decisions we need to remind them that all parents make mistakes, and some make big ones. It is hard to give honor to those you think do not deserve it. We don’t have to agree with someone to show them respect but we are told in the Bible to humble ourselves and submit to those in authority over us.
7. Read these two verses: Romans 1:30, 2 Timothy 3:2. What stands out to you about these lists of sins?
Both of these sound like they are describing really bad people. “Disobeying parents” seems a little out of place because it doesn’t seem like that bad of a sin. But in God’s eyes it is a big deal. If we call ourselves Christians and are asking God to be Lord of our lives, we need to see our sins like God does. We need to recognize that disobeying our parents is a big deal to God.
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?
8. Why do you think honoring our parents is so important to God?
Allow the group to discuss. God created an order to our world, and families and government are a part of that order. He designed the structure of a home to have the parents in charge and the children to respond with respect and love. Clearly that does not happen all the time, but this was his heart when he created us and can even be a picture of how we relate to God as our Father.
*9. How could you honor and respect your parents better?
- What is the Holy Spirit’s role in this?
Allow the group to discuss. If appropriate, challenge them to act on their answers and follow through with respecting their parents better. Following God in any area of our lives can only fully be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. Obeying our parents is no exception. Asking the Holy Spirit to help us make changes gives us the power that we need to do hard things.
10. How do you honor your parents if they are doing something you think is wrong or are asking you to do something that is wrong?
Allow the group to discuss. Admit that this is a tough issue and that you hope none of them will have to deal with this. Point out that honoring is not the same as obeying. Our first authority is God. He has called us to honor our parents and we should do that, but if they ask or lead us to disobey God, we need to remember who is our first authority. If this happens, we can still treat our parents lovingly and respectfully, even as we obey God.
*11. Parents aren’t perfect. Everyone is sinful but when parents sin, children suffer. When parents sin big, children suffer even more. If that has been your experience, you have a Heavenly Father who loves you more than you can imagine (Psalm 68:5). How does it comfort you that God is a perfect Father, even if your parents aren’t?
Allow the group to share. If it doesn’t come out in the discussion, remind them that God is all knowing, all loving, and all powerful. That means he knows everything that happens to them, wants the very best for them as a loving Father, and can provide everything they need. He is a loving Father we can trust. If you have kids who have rough home lives, you may want to camp out on this question for a while and speak truth and love into their lives. If appropriate, take time to pray for them as a group.
Our review cards are an excellent way to review your past lessons with your students before each study. Not every lesson has one yet but if we have them, you can find them on the PRINT page. Check them out and use them each week to help your students grab hold of the truths in these studies.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.