Planning each year the schedule for biblically observing the Passover often reveals a need in our families for a better understanding of what authority is, and a proper response to it. The unexpected pressures of Passover have revealed that this issue isn't settled—and this can be a GOOD THING in the long run! It can occasion more study, learning and teaching on this issue, in our homes and in our fellowships.
Planning for the Passover observance can reveal a gray area re: timing, and where to do it (at home, or in the assembly). When the head of the household has a strong view on these decisions, and especially if these have been shared calmly and lovingly (and biblically) with the family, listening to others’ perspectives and inputs, that is a test of godly obedience. In such a case —when no sin is occasioned, no matter the decision-- "Park your brain and do exactly what your father tells you, right now, even against your reason and your spirituality." In our own family’s experience, obedience and emotional shut-down co-existed until the shofars blew and then the subtle resistance departed and we had a good time together.
Unmasking the authority dynamic:
When we got home from our Passover observance with the assembly one year, we had a good deep session reviewing what happened there and clearing up the understanding of headship. Understanding that the man of the household bears the judgment of the Lord for what goes on in his house frees the others from bearing that, and that helped immensely. The new insight was to see that the Lord established headship just for such times when issues are not black and white, so as not to be thrown into confusion. The man is authorized by the Lord to provide this headship for all grey areas, and unforeseen curveballs, over his family, that that is one of the reasons for headship. Your family may discuss the verse directly related to a woman's submission, which includes the universal help for all woman: “Do not fear.” (That's our clue, as women, that she will have a tendency to clutch and fear.) What would a woman fear? She fears loss of control...and outcomes. Her lack of submission disrupts the peace and harmony in the home...and the enemy knows if he can get a toehold here during any event, he disrupts celestial beauty.
For your children, their issue in your case may perhaps be that there isn't a settled contentment under authority. Having the view that "This is my authority now and I'm not going to rethink it; I'm going to be cheerful under whatever happens...this is a settled issue in my mind that I will respond this way to any godly authority set over me, whether it be a boss in a work situation, or a temporary authority figure on a mission trip, or a 4H leader, at the time I'm under them, this will be my response. I'm not gong to be sitting down on the outside but standing up on the inside, perhaps wishing for something else, or applying my mind to question all things...thoughts perhaps like "Why couldn't we have done it with the larger group with the first Passover group? or done it in a different place or at a different time for this second Passover, even?, etc. --details of any event, involving any headship, all of which don't ultimately matter.
To the one in authority, questioning authority, even on the emotional level, by whomever one is shepherding, feels like little foxes nipping at his heel. Many wives in unbelieving homes have a terrible time with this. And as a consequence, it chews up the harmony in the home. The good response has to be learned: I'm going to accept godly authority as God's design for me cheerfully at this hour, and over this matter, and value the harmony that it brings to His kingdom, rather than my rational appeasements.
That year, I tried to work on this principle during our entire trip (this was a Passover observance far from home) with all of us, including me, saying “Let's just quickly do whatever Dad says.” I wanted to get at the idea that even if he says for us to stand on our heads...our answer should be cheerfully "for how long !" As you no doubt have found out, too, in your parenting, we'll always need to work on cultivating greater degrees of this in our children (as well as in my heart as a wife). It is a 30+ year uphill task, that we grow in degree by degree. Satan always diverts us off that bigger issue onto the lesser immediate little rational issue at hand rather than the love of harmony.
Gaining a clear understanding of cheerful submission in our children does two powerful things. One, it brings harmony and pleasantness to the home, and two, it teaches us to have a yielded will on any and all issues. This drives self-will and selfishness far from us. Amazingly, as we obey it, it accrues to our own personal beauty.
That is the part we have to get our children to buy into: to grow to want to have it happen to them, even if it cuts across their canal nature. Sharing missionary biographies helps so much in painting a picture of the end result. Do you want to be a selfless hero the Lord can use, not just in this situation, but as practice for the future--for any situation? This is the heart of the matter: not just to do it, but to buy into it.
Submission cultivates the utter ability to command oneself, to put oneself under, at a moment's notice, over any issue--what bed to sleep in, what activity we'll do, when and where, how we'll do that activity, etc. We have to see God's sovereignty over designing all the specifics of our life, no matter how unpleasant they appear to be, to our personal and fragile sensibilities. Even mentally complaining means I think my circumstances should be better; I don't accept that God has designed my immediate circumstances. To have a supple yielded will to God's will is the goal of the earth's crucible for every saint. And so it must be the goal in the home.
These thoughts, and this scenario, is shared as a head's up to watch for a deeper display of acceptance, a settledness, in the future when wielding your own authority with them, you can ask yourself, “Is my authority questioned in their hearts over little matters and big? How readily do they obey? How cheerfully? Do they buy into the good it will do for their own character to submit on the inside? Do they want this work done in slaying their will, or do they resist it? Observe whether this is evident, even over tiny matters like buying a toothbrush: I want this kind, but Dad tells me I should get this kind; is there a cheerful “Okay”? They need to see that all issues simply won't matter even one week from now. What matters is yieldedness. CAN my heart yield? Cheerfully? Have I taught it to?
The key issue:
Understanding a father's authority in our lives is a key issue in spiritual growth. Ask yourself, as the father (and mother), “Do my children shut down to me?” Are they shut down to you on any level, because their will has just been crossed? Are they having their own private counsel about what you require? Are you, as the parents, on trial in their hearts? Or are your children on trial before the Lord in their own growth in holiness? Do they understand the difference? Amazingly, this was the issue that was hammered on throughout all of family week in the workshops that year at Passover on the other side of the country.
Yours in the trenches of on-going parenting. Believe me, one never arrives! We're still working on this. Delight in your children, thoroughly. These thoughts are only sent to help polish your Rolls Royces.