Obedience to God doesn’t begin at adulthood. The first seeds are planted when a child is a toddler. It may seem unimportant if we allow a two-year-old to disobey, but that’s the age when the foundation is laid.
Consider these three scenes:
As I stood in the bread aisle, a preschooler ran by me. I turned to see his mom following behind. If you’ve tried to catch an escaped two-year-old, you know those short little legs move fast. He stayed a few steps ahead of his mom, turning the corner without fear while Mom slowed down not wanting to knock other shoppers off their feet. “Liam, stop now. Come to me this minute.” Liam laughed and turned another corner. If Mom found Liam in produce, he may have lost interest in the chase in the presence of the bright-colored food, but I’m certain she was out of breath and embarrassed.
The thirteen-year-old sat in my office and sulked. During the lunch break, Mr. Robertson, the teacher on duty, saw Emily with a cigarette. When he approached her, she threw it down and walked away from her friends.
Mr. Robertson followed. “Emily, wait a minute. You’re not supposed to smoke on campus.”
Emily turned toward him. “Well, that’s a bunch of (expletive). What about my rights?”
“Emily, come with me.”
Emily turned and walked away. As a result of her insolent behavior, she was in my office waiting for her parents to arrive for a conference.
Jackson sat in his office after hours. His life was falling in shambles around him, and he had nowhere to turn. It really got bad last year after he ran into Thomas at a reunion.
“Hey, Jackson. Good to see you. What have you been up to since high school”
Jackson couldn’t believe he spilled his guts to Thomas. It was like someone opened the valve, and he couldn’t close it. The affair, the divorce, his son’s drug problem, and the threat of losing his business.
Thomas listened until he’d dumped it all. Then he knew just what to say. “Listen, Jackson, I’ve got an opportunity that might help you see your way out of this mess. I need someone to be my right-hand man in a deal I’ve got going. It won’t require you to put up money—just do some jobs for me.
The year that followed the “deal” had been a fast spiral downhill. He was in over his head. What he was doing for Thomas was not only morally wrong, it was illegal. Now, as he sat in his office, he contemplated that the world would be better off without him.
The 3 Steps away from Obedience to God
In each of the stories above, the protagonist defies authority—first a mom, then an authority figure outside the home, and finally God.
When Liam refused to stop at his mother’s command, it seemed to be no big deal. In fact, it was amusing to bystanders. I recently watched what most would call harmless—a toddler running from his mother around a restaurant table. But it was the beginning of an attitude of disobedience.
The problem is that one kind of disrespect for authority leads to another. When we teach our young child to come when we say come, we are teaching him that someday he must respect the authority of God in his marriage, his family, and his business.