I should have known better.
Writing about standards isn’t easy. Reading about them isn’t fun. But when I see and hear of people who say they were hurt by others upholding standards, it’s something I have to explore.
From many of the accounts that I hear, what seems to be a common thread is a failure to recognize that there are different reasons to set up a standard.
I’ll present six reasons for standards. This week I’ll give some examples of each, using a parent-child relationship as an example. In a couple of weeks, I’ll look at how they might apply differently in an institutional setting.
So, let’s dive in. Here are six different reasons someone might establish a standard for you to follow.
1. Because It Is Right
In our home, we have a standard. Our children are forbidden to lie to us. This standard is a direct reflection of Scriptural commands (Ephesians 4:25, for instance). This standard is simply right, so it should be obeyed without needing any other reason.
2. Because It Is Wise
In our home, we have a standard. Electronic devices that can access the internet have accountability software installed. While Biblical principles expect us to be transparent with each other about our own weaknesses and sins (James 5:16), God does not dictate how that transparency is to be accomplished.
As authority in my home, I have set that standard regarding electronic devices. I believe it is a wise rule — one that is perfectly reasonable for me to enforce. I also believe it is wise for all Christians to have a similar expectation in their own homes.
I could say similar things for standards we set up for our physical health and safety. When my children grow older, they will be free to choose a different solution than I did. I’m not going to judge them if they have a different approach. But as long as they live within my house, I do expect my children to comply with the standard I have set.
3. Because It Is Convenient
In our home, we have a standard. There is a schedule that outlines who does certain chores on certain days or weeks. There is nothing Scriptural about a chore chart. There’s nothing sacred about this schedule. It exists strictly for convenience, so we don’t have to make new decisions every day or every week. Sometimes, we change things up a bit when we need to. But there’s still a standard.
I’m glad my kids have never asked me for a chapter and verse to defend the details of their chore chart — and not just because I don’t have one. If they demanded a chapter and verse to support the schedule before they would accept it, they would reveal something unpleasant about their attitude toward authority. Quoting Colossians 3:20 to such a challenge might seem flippant, but it would be accurate. If I’m under authority, I should obey even when the rules are there only for convenience.
(Hold on… I recognize that this can be abused. We’re not done with it yet.)
4. Because You’re In Training
In our home, we have a standard. The children fold their own clothes. Now that’s certainly not in the Bible, but it’s expected in our house. Sure, it reduces the load on Mom. But like many other rules in our home, it also helps prepare the kids for responsibilities they’ll have when they are on their own.
5. Because You’re An Example
In our home, we have a standard. We don’t refer to adults by their first name. Well, when Lana and I are talking to each other we do, but when we’re with our kids, we talk about Mr. So-and-so or Mrs. Such-and-such. Why do we have a standard where even we won’t use an adult’s first name? Because we want our children to show respect to others.
We don’t want them to address an adult by their first name, so we have adopted that standard to be an example. Sometimes it’s important to surrender some personal liberty in order to help someone else who may need more restrictions than you do.
6. Because You’re A Pawn
In our home, we have a standard. There is a schedule that outlines who does certain chores on certain days or weeks.
Oh, wait – I already used that one. That was to illustrate standards that exist for my convenience.
But what if I overload that schedule to give them more chores than they can handle. Or what if I assigned them chores not to train them, but to empower my own laziness?
Suppose I took this a step further. What if I also demanded that my children cover up my sin, or lie to others so that I could have or retain a position of prominence or leadership. Now things get more difficult. I’d clearly be at fault — committing an egregious abuse of my authority. Within my family, it would be time for me to get past Colossians 3:20 and look at the next verse: Colossians 3:21.
But what should my kids do? Should they still obey even if I’m asking them to help me continue sinning?
That’s a tough one. What do you think? How would a child know where the line is? Is there even such a line?
I told you this wasn’t easy. I’d like your input. Share your thoughts in the comments. Is there ever a time for a child not to do what a parent has told them to do?