Instructions for Disobedient Children



I recently helped watch kids in a junior’s program at a Christian conference. By the fourth day of the conference the kids were tired. Many of them refused to do anything the leader suggested, some were seeking to hide or runaway from the leader—it was chaotic.        

Many thoughts go through your mind in a situation like that:

  • How can I help bring order here?
  • What do these kids need right now?
  • Do their parents deal with this at home?
  • Are my kids acting out like this for others to deal with?

As I was pondering these things, I remembered that God has children (1 John 3:1-3). This thought brought me comfort. Father God has included instructions and examples on how to handle disobedient children in His Word. For example, when Elijah was running away, God’s solution was a snack and a nap (1 Kings 19:4-5). That might have worked in the junior’s program too, if we had had more time.

A few days later, as I was reading a biography of Gladys Aylward to my kids, I came across the following story from her cook:

I was a lonely bad-tempered old man until [Gladys] came to my village. I listened to her stories and her songs, and I was interested. I learned that she needed a cook, and here I am. I cannot cook, but that does not matter. I do my best. I love these children, to whom Ai-weh-deh (Glady’s name in China, it means virtuous woman) is now more than father and mother. Oh, yes, sometimes they are naughty, but Ai-weh-deh says God loves naughty, wicked people so we must do the same.

Gladys was caring for about twenty children at that time. Having recently been in a room with twenty kids, and one teacher, I can imagine some of the situations she might have experienced.

What instruction does God’s Word offer to His children, those who recognize their need for obedience? 

1 Peter 1:14 says, As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance.

We should recognize those things which captured our hearts before we knew Christ and guard against letting them take His rightful place. Peter goes on to say in 1 Peter 2:1-3:

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

God’s Word will provide the nourishment necessary to grow in our new life with Christ. Are you growing in your obedience to Christ? Sometimes it seems like we take one step forward and two steps back. If we keep seeking Him, God will meet us in His Word with grace for every obstacle that would keep us from knowing Him better. He may even provide a snack and a nap too.