Practicing What You Preach

By Joey and Carla Link
March 9, 2022

Have you ever heard the phrase “caught between a rock and a hard place”? Parents often find themselves there, when everywhere they turn they run into a stone wall. We all speed when driving our cars. I think the first words out of our mouths when we gave each of our kids the keys to the car for the first time after they got their driver’s license was “Don’t speed!” When our kids were much younger, they learned what those signs with numbers on them meant and would watch the speedometer on the car and let their mom and I know when we were exceeding the posted speed limit. The last time I was in our son’s car it wasn’t too long before I heard his son let him know what the posted speed limit was and how fast he was going. What are you teaching your kids when you speed?

We heard about a man who was telling us about the heated conversations he and his son, who was learning to drive were having about speeding. The Dad’s mantra was “Do as I say, not as I do.” I don’t know who came up with this, but it does not sit well with kids or teens.

A week after this conversation, the church youth group was going to a camp which mandated no cell phones were allowed. The parents didn’t have 100% trust in their son being that far away and not being able to get in contact with him, so they allowed him to take his phone and told him to keep it in his bag. The son asked his dad if he didn’t have the freedom to disobey his parents, why did his dad have the freedom to pick and choose which rules and laws he would obey, which led back to the speeding issue.

Is there anywhere in Romans 13:1-2 where it says we have the freedom to make up our own minds about which laws we will or won’t obey?

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

When parents get caught obeying the laws of the government they agree with and not obeying the ones they don’t, when their kids and especially teens find out, it should be no surprise they see it as a double standard and call you a hypocrite.

It is not our place to say whether posted speed limits are right or wrong, or whether it is a good idea to expect kids to spend a weekend without their phones, especially when you can’t trust if they will leave it in their bag and not use it (this son did get caught texting his girlfriend who didn’t go to camp).

The bigger issue here is are you practicing how you expect your kids to live? If not, you will undermine your authority and influence with your kids when they are confronted with the double standard and they are trying to determine what are the right and wrong biblical principles they need to live by.

The better path would be to ask for permission for contextual exceptions. I was in charge of a youth retreat a few years ago and I said no cell phones allowed. If they needed to bring them for any reason the phones needed to be turned in to their counselor. I had several teens ask if they could use theirs during the teaching sessions because they used the Bible on their phones. That is not uncommon today, of course. I did allow them to use them for this purpose, as long as they gave them back to their counselor when each teaching session was over. Why couldn’t they hang on to them? I knew the phone was too big of a temptation not to look when it let them know they had a message and I wanted this time at camp to be focused on relationship building and growing in Christ
I was not surprised when I found a teen using it to text a friend who was not at camp, and I took their phone from them until we got home, as I had said I would. This kid had a choice. He could attend the retreat and abide by the rules, and join in on the fun, but give up his phone during this time. He chose not to.

The Dad we talked about at the beginning of this blog also had a choice. He could have also thought through why it was so hard to stick to the speed limit. The inherent problem is a governing authority needs to have a rational practical reason for their rules, otherwise authority is setting themselves up for rebellion and anarchy. This goes for parents too. If your kids don’t understand your rules or why you made them, there is no hope they will obey them and in essence you are teaching them to be disobedient.

The more Christians stand on Biblical principles, the more we will be the light of the world and respected by them and the more parents will be able to influence their kids and teens that are watching your every move.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning,
for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Hebrews 13:17