“Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
—1 Peter 2:17
Much has been written regarding the importance of teaching children manners and respect. A web search produces a plethora of resources such as books, podcasts, video series, parenting classes, etiquette classes, and blog articles. It can be overwhelming. As Christian parents, we must not lose sight of the most important resource we possess, the Bible. Scripture is full of lessons and commands regarding how we are to treat one another. John 13:34 tells us to “love one another.” Ephesians 6:2 commands us to “honor thy father and mother.” While Proverbs 22:6 encourages us to “train up a child in the way he should go,” 1 Peter 2:17 exhorts us to “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” The previous Scripture passages are worthy of our attention, but 1 Peter 2:17 holds a mini-blueprint that can guide us in our efforts to train our children in the habits of manners and respect. Here are the big four ideas from that passage.
1. Respect: Honor All Men
Respect and manners ought to go hand in hand. Our oldest son was about five years old when we first realized his need to learn proper respect. Though friendly and outgoing, he refused to greet our pastor on Sunday mornings. Through consistent training and a few awkward moments, we helped our son to see that greeting Pastor Mark properly showed respect and good manners. Through his obedience, our son experienced the joy of a healthy relationship with his pastor.
Proper respect includes being gracious toward others and learning to value all people. The “all men” in 1 Peter ought to be modeled by us as parents. Do we respond to everyone with kindness and grace? Children who show proper respect to everyone are most likely influenced by parents who do the same.
2. Love: Love the Brotherhood
Love is essential for a well-mannered child. Without love, a child may believe the point of good manners is merely social acceptance. Being polite may bring public praise, but acting out of love for others brings an internal satisfaction that cannot be measured. Ultimately, children who learn to love others as Christ loves them, will find joy and peace in their relationships. The family of believers provides multiple opportunities to demonstrate love to others.
Our fourteen-year-old has discovered this through his role on our church tech team and his care of the younger kids at small group gatherings. Last week, I overheard someone complimenting our son on how polite and kind he is with the children. Though I know he appreciated the accolade, I believe he truly enjoys loving those around him. My heart is glad to know that when he makes mistakes, as he did one Sunday on the tech team, he is discovering his church family is capable of extending grace and loving him back.
3. Fear of the Lord: Fear God
It’s odd to think of manners in relation to fearing God. But children who have a healthy fear of God take the command to honor their father and mother seriously. Training your children to think soberly of God requires time and effort. We have a nightly practice of family devotions. During this time, we read Scripture, share about our day, and pray for each
other. Over the years there have been plenty of meltdowns and early bedtimes as we’ve persevered in training our children to listen and participate.
One particularly difficult night, one of our sons exclaimed, “Can we just pray and get this over with!” My husband responded, “Son, we are talking about important things. We will not rush through our time with God.” Our children developed a healthy fear of God as they engaged in conversation, prayer, and Bible reading. It’s a joy to see our grown sons demonstrating a sober view of God through their respect and love of others.
4. Honor: Honor the King
Honor is about esteeming others above ourselves. Honoring people like our parents, grandparents, veterans, presidents, and other leaders is a part of our American culture. Dishonoring the flag or our country is considered shameful.
When a young child is seen standing at attention for the pledge of allegiance or bowing his head in prayer, people notice. Showing honor and an adherence to what is right demonstrates a child’s understanding that manners and respect matter. Let’s continue to teach our children to “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.“
Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.