If You Want to Teach a Child, You Have to have Their Heart

Over 10 years ago I came across an article by Dr S. M. Davis (a pastor from Illinois), entitled “Changing the Heart of a Rebel.” I believe it contains some very helpful pointers for any family, but particularly a home schooling family. What follows is a brief summary. Those who would like a copy of the whole article may obtain it from us.

  1. Rebellion originates in the Heart. Rebellion is more a heart problem than a life problem. “The heart of every problem is a problem in the heart.” David lost Absalom’s heart (see II Sam.13-14) years before he lost him behaviorally (II Sam.15). The behavioural manifestations when he lost his life were shocking: he tried to kill his father, and slept with his father’s concubines in public (II Sam.16:22), but they were rooted in David’s sins of many years earlier. David had sinned against God in the matter of Bathsheba, then later with regards to Tamar and Absalom in not prosecuting Absalom’s half-brother Amnon, for raping his sister Tamar (II Sam. 13).
  2. Children want Parents to have Their Heart. Children may want this, but parents must never assume that this is going to happen automatically, or that they can retain their child’s heart automatically. A sense of injustice will cause a parent to lose their child’s heart. The Bible’s warning to fathers, “Do not provoke your children to anger…” (Eph.6:4), is a warning. A child will not give their heart to their parents, if they perceive that their parents are unjust.

III. The One that has the Child’s Heart will Eventually have Their Life and Loyalty.               . If a child really believes that their parent has needlessly offended them, they will often nurse this offence and hold it against them. The parent has lost their heart, even if that child appears to be behaving normally. Underneath, the issue may be unresolved, and no amount of parental authority or pressure will change this.

If a parent says to a teenage child, “You need to get your work done now,” and the child disobeys, that parent had better stop themself, and say, “What’s happened? Why is he resisting me?” “The first thing to do at any sign of rebellion is not to get exasperated and shove away. The thing to do is to draw closer to the child.”

  1. The Ideal Biblical Father/Son Relationship, is Jesus and His Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “…I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Jn.5:30).
  2. There are Three Big Dangers for the Heart. In this order: the heart can be lost, it can be hardened, and it can be stolen.

VI. Only a Heart can keep the Heart.

Any parent with a rebellious child, needs to get to the root of the issue. The issue requires wisdom and humility, not parental authority. “Have I offended you in some way? If so, will you forgive me?”