3 Parenting Tips from the Life of Peter

Dan DeWitt | September 6th 2018

1. Peter’s Big Mouth and Learning to Say Sorry (Matthew 16)

Peter had a big mouth. If you read the stories in the gospels about the disciples you’ll notice he often spoke up before everyone else. But he also often spoke up before he gave much thought about the words that were about to come out of his mouth.

One time he performed both brilliantly and awfully in the same conversation. It’s when Jesus asked the disciples who people believed him to be. After they all gave their answers, Jesus made it personal. “Who do you say I am?” he asked them. In typical fashion, Peter spoke up right away. 

“You are the Messiah, the son of the Living God.” 

This time Peter got it right. But shortly afterwards he got it totally, and utterly wrong. When Jesus went on to describe what kind of Messiah he was—one who would die for his people— Peter told Jesus not to go to the cross. Jesus’ reply is shocking:

 “Get behind me Satan!” 

As parents, we know that we often regret things we say. We can be like Peter, one moment we get it right—we encourage our children for something they are doing well or we correct them with a gentle and loving tone. But sometimes we get it wrong. We raise our voice or we’re short with them, or worse we say something we wish we hadn’t.

One important way we can model grace in our homes is by saying we’re sorry. We can teach our children about their need for forgiveness by demonstrating our need for forgiveness. The next time you open your mouth and say something you shouldn’t, or say something in a way you shouldn’t, model grace by asking your child to forgive you. And then lead them in a prayer and ask Jesus to forgive you too. 

2: Temper Tantrums and Trusting God (John 18)

On the night Jesus was arrested Peter lost all control. In a flash of adrenaline and fear, Peter swiped his sword at one of the soldiers taking Jesus away. It seems he was aiming for his head. He missed—and cut off his ear.

It was another example of how Peter, and the other disciples, had not yet understood why Jesus came—the kind of messiah he was. Jesus wouldn’t stand any of this. He promptly picked up the ear and put it back on, completely healing the man. Jesus was prepared to walk the path of the cross and drink the full cup of God’s wrath on our behalf. He was ready to die for Peter, and for us too. 

In Peter’s zeal, he lashed out, seeking to claim what he wanted, when he wanted, and how he wanted. He didn’t want his best friend taken away, tried, and crucified. 
And that’s really at the heart of all our temper tantrums—a failure to trust God to meet our needs. 

A temper tantrum is a confession that we don’t trust the Lord. We want what we want, how we want it and when we want it. This story shows us that trusting God for his provision, in his time, is what God wants from us all. 

Peter’s last stand, his final act of courage before he denied Jesus, tells a tale of its own. Peter took matters into his own hands—an example of misplaced courage. Peter had courage in his own strength, and lashed out. True courage is trusting God. 

As you read this story with your child you might ask them why they think Peter was so impulsive. You might ask them about times when they get impatient, or mad, or throw fits. Have a good chat about what it looks like to calmly trust God to meet our needs. 

And while you’re at it, think about the ways you get ahead of God and throw your own temper tantrums. It’s easy to want what we want when we want it. It’s much harder to trust that God will meet all our needs. 

3: Preventing Pride In Our Little People (Luke 22)

Before the worst night of his life, Jesus had supper with his best friends. It was an intimate affair filled with poignant meaning, and with more than a hint of treachery thrown in, as Judas left to betray him. But immediately after he foretold all the horrors the night had in store, the disciples began fighting about who was the greatest among them. Can you believe that? 

Peter must have spoken up because Jesus quickly turned his attention towards him. Peter was ready to save the day. He told Jesus that even if all the other disciples turned away, he would never deny him, but stick with him until the end. 

If only that were true. 

Jesus told Peter that he would go so far as to deny that he even knew Jesus three times. And then the rooster would crow. 

This story demonstrates the power of pride. Pride blinds us to what is right in front of us. Even as Jesus—the prophet, teacher, master and Messiah— is telling Peter what will happen Peter is in denial. He’s insistent that he won’t turn away like everyone else.

Of course, Jesus’ words came true, as they always do. Peter, the man who stood up to a soldier with sword in hand, caved under the pressure of a young girl who asked if he was one of Jesus’ friends. “No, I don’t know him,” he casually said as he walked towards the fire to warm himself. Strike one. 

Two more times Peter denies Jesus. And then he heard the rooster and he turned to see Jesus looking at him. Can you imagine the pain he felt? It is a powerful and moving portrayal of pride and failure. Little wonder that John goes on to say that Peter wept bitter tears.

Your children, when they are younger, can be in awe of you as a parent. The best dad or mum in the world. Reality catches up when they become teenagers. So you can help your children by talking to them about this story. Share with them about a time when pride kept you from seeing God’s way as good and as what’s best. Share with them what happened, and how God humbled you, and about how difficult it was to repent. And above all share with them how you have experienced forgiveness from Jesus.

Dan DeWitt is the author of a new illustrated children's book, The Friend Who Forgives. Children know all about failing, but they don’t always experience true forgiveness. This book points them to Jesus, the Friend who will forgive them again and again and again. Watch a teaser of the book below... 

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Dan DeWitt

Dan DeWitt is the Associate Professor of Apologetics & Applied Theology at Cedarville University, Ohio and Director of the Center for Biblical Apologetics & Public Christianity. He is the author of "Life in the Wild" and "The Friend Who Forgives". Dan and his wife, April, have four young children. Dan blogs regularly at theolatte.com

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