How to Have Successful Parent/Child – Leader/Follower Relationships

Years ago I was running a sports league and ministry for sailors from Great Lakes Naval base when one weekend a boy came down to play who had a really bad attitude and simply would not cooperate with anything that we were trying to do. Because of the type of program we ran, we kept the boys with us the whole weekend. Our family and other families would take the boys into our homes, keep them overnight, providing a sort of home-away-from-home atmosphere, then take them to church on Sunday. We gave them great home cooking and a comfortable place to stay but most of all we tried to show them that we truly cared for and loved them. Virtually all of the boys were very appreciative of our efforts, but this particular weekend this young sailor just did not seem happy at all. Whether it was while playing the sports or in conversation around the table, he would not listen or cooperate. Sunday afternoon I let all the other men go play ball and I asked this fellow to ride with me to the gym. On the way I asked him if he thought it a little unique that a family would bring in sailors to their home like we were doing. He said that it was indeed strange to him.  Then he asked, “What’s the catch?”

I said, “No catch. We just want you to know that we care and appreciate what you are doing for our nation.”

He looked at me and told me a very sad story of abuse done to him by his stepfather. He showed me a large, nasty-looking scar on his arm and elbow, the result of being thrown out of a second story window by his stepfather.  He said to me that no one in his life had ever cared for him or loved him. At this point I said, “We do and God does.” He broke and wept. That young man became what we called a “regular” at our home. When he did not have duty, he came down every weekend for months, ate home cooking, played ball and became part of our family. Never one time after that did I have a problem with his attitude or compliance with rules.  He became a son and a son with a right relationship with his father wants to please his father. Of course, I wasn’t his real father but, as his “adopted” father, he wanted to please me.

In the book of Proverbs we find a passage in chapter 29 that explains why this transformation took place.
Proverbs 29:17-21 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul (vs17). Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he (vs.18). A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer (vs. 19). Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him (vs. 20). He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length (vs. 21).”

Note that last verse. This passage may be the greatest passage in the Bible for working with young people. 

Notice what it says in Proverbs 29:17:

  1. A son should be corrected
  2. A son that is corrected will give you rest (give comfort or allow you to live in quiet or peace)
  3. A son corrected will give delight to your soul (to live cheerfully, in pleasure).

Next, look at 29:18. There may seem to be a shift in thought here, but really, there is not.  This entire passage is a counseling passage and this verse is primarily speaking about having a vision for the people that we will be helping and counseling. We must understand that if we, as parents and leaders, want the promises, we have to keep the law. We must follow the commands we are given starting with the command found in Proverbs 29:17 to “correct thy son.” If we don’t have a vision for “our sons” and follow the command we won’t see the desired result.
Next, in Proverbs 29:19, we find an incredible teaching that illustrates why many times those that we are attempting to teach and influence are not receiving what we are trying to give.  Why? Because a servant will not be corrected by words. Even though he understands what we are saying and what we are trying to accomplish, he will not receive it.
Again, Proverbs 29:20 may seem like a change in thought, but it is not. In fact, the man who is “hasty in his words” is the man who verbally tries to get the servant to obey when the scripture clearly says he will not. Failing to heed God’s word is clearly a foolish and intentional act against God’s word.
This leads us to the final verse that we will discuss- Proverbs 29:21, and the real point of this lesson. This verse says, “He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.”  God is teaching us how to have real, life-changing influence with people, especially young people. God is teaching us how to have real results in our counseling and in necessary correction of those we lead. How? By taking the relationship from a master (employer, counselor, leader)/servant relationship to a father/son relationship. God says that it can be done and, if He is teaching us that it can be done then, it should be done. The key to acquiring this kind of relationship comes from the realization that it will not happen because we, as the leaders, command or demand it, but by long, careful, and loving efforts by us.  “Delicately” is the key word.  When we make the servant a son then we will receive the promise of verse 17. Moreover, God is also telling us that it is not just physical offspring that we can have this relationship with, but anyone with whom we are willing to develop a father/son relationship. And, when we do, the promise is that they will receive our instructions and give rest and delight to our souls.
Now for the final thought.  Just as it is a shame when we fail to develop a father/son relationship with those we counsel and lead and therefore struggle with their followship and compliance, it is more shameful when we allow our relationship to our biological children to be nothing more than a master/servant relationship.  How sad it is when we allow work, play, or the enjoyment of possessions to take up so much of our time that our own children feel like nothing more than servants to us! In my counseling I so often hear a parent say, “I don’t understand. He/she won’t listen to a thing we say”. Remember, a servant will not be corrected by words but a son will receive correction and “give thee rest.”  If we want the results, we must be willing to spend the time.

By Bob Hooker

On November 8, 1975, while sitting in his dorm room at Memphis State University, Robert Hooker realized he was miserable deep inside. He really didn’t have anything to live for. He had seen several of his friends die while in high school and college and knew that he too would face death someday. Robert’s heart was in turmoil as he picked up a small Bible and started to read. God’s Word was foreign to Robert and it was hard for him to understand; just as he was about to close the Bible he spotted some verses in the back of the Book. After reading these verses he understood that he was a sinner, and deserved to go to a place called Hell. Robert knelt beside his bed and asked Jesus Christ to save him and give him eternal life. Robert realized for the first time that Jesus Christ was truly the Son of God, and had lived a spotless life. He realized Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the grave, just so he could have eternal life. Robert graduated from Memphis State and went on to work at Trinity Baptist Church in Collierville, Tennessee as the Youth Pastor. While attending this church, God called Robert to preach and he, his wife and two daughters moved to Indiana to attend Hyles-Anderson College in January of 1982. Robert graduated from Hyles-Anderson College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pastoral Theology in May of 1985. Later, Robert received his Masters in Pastoral Theology. Bro. Hooker has been working at Hyles-Anderson College and in the ministries of First Baptist Church since 1985. In 2005 Bro. Hooker was given a Doctorate of Divinity by Dr. Jack Schaap. Dr. Hooker is the Sr. Vice President and a Professor at Hyles-Anderson College. Dr. Hooker teaches the Faith and Family Sunday school class at the First Baptist Church of Hammond. 1985 - Demerit Counselor 1986 - Part-time staff member at the church and director of the Sailor Ministry 1990 - Athletic Director and part-time faculty 1996 - Full-time faculty 2001 - Dean of Married Students 2003 - Dean of Student Counseling 2006 - Sr. Vice President

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