T.L.P. Episode 43: Training Your Children to Rebel

No one wants a rebellious child, but too often we do the very things that will train them to rebel against us and God. Join AMBrewster as he discusses what we need to do to avoid the “Millstone Necklace.”

Click here for Episode 43 Notes.


Tim Challie’s Article

T.L.P. Facebook

AMBrewster on Twitter

Need some help? Write to us at Counselor@EvermindMinistries.com

Continue for Transcript.


Normally I wait a minute or two to tell you about our newest review, but I can’t wait today.

It’s long, but it was such a blessing to me, and I want to share just a part of it with you.

The reviewer said,

This podcast came into my daily routine during a not so great season of strife with our strong-willed 9 year old daughter. I was nearing desperation and the thought of trying to find a Christ-honoring parenting podcast came into my mind. This was the first on the list and I decided to try it out. Best decision ever! Parenting is not easy in today’s world and it can be so hard to find ways to ensure I am hearing from God – the ultimate model of a perfect parent! But this podcast does just that. [TLP] delivers God inspired messages along with supporting Scriptures and even makes PDF notes available! I cannot say enough how this has helped me re-evaluate my priorities as a godly parent and continue to be strong in the Lord as I raise my children to be follower of Christ. Thank you, Evermind Ministries!!”

As I said, this was just part of the 5-star review they left. I would encourage all of you to log in to iTunes, search for “Truth Love Parent,” and check out the Ratings and Reviews tab. Their full review and testimony will likely excite you as it did me because it points back to God and the way He fulfills our every need in His perfect timing.

And while you’re there, will you take a moment to Rate and Review us? I love sharing your thoughts on our show, and I love answering the questions you send us via email.

Unfortunately, I don’t have our reviewers name, and I would love to get in contact to thank them. If you’re listening, please email us at staff@EvermindMinistries.com. We’d love to hear how your family’s doing, get a little more information about you, and let you know about a special opportunity just for you.

Okay, let’s move on with today’s topic — “Training Your Children to Rebel.”

And as our reviewer mentioned, we have Episode Notes available at EvermindMinistries.com which is linked in the description.


Alright, most of you are familiar with Ephesians 6:4,

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Paul repeated this admonition in Colossians 3:2.

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

Other translations say, “embittered.”

Much has been written on this subject, but I don’t know that many people have connected the idea in this passage to the painful reality many of us face with our kids — rebellion.

The words rebel, rebelled, rebels, and rebellious show up 124 time in the ESV sprinkled throughout the whole Bible. Most of the uses are in the Old Testament and describe the nation of Israel’s rebellion against God.

Now, to frame our discussion on rebellion, we need to answer some questions. For example, why do our kids rebel? Why do they reject our authority? Is it ultimately our fault or theirs?

Well, the answer is actually very simple. Rebellion grows out of a hard, idolatrous heart. There’s no room for God-worship when you’re obsessed with self.

Secondly, our children will forever and always be solely responsible to God for rejecting Him and the authorities He’s put into their lives.

But . . . .

As we saw in Episode 2, 4, 6, 19, 20, 22, 26, 36, and 42 . . . we will be held responsible for the times we’ve trained our kids to rebel.

If I teach my kids to reject God I will be guilty before God for the part I played. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke it’s recorded that Jesus said,

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Three times Christ said it.

Let that reverberate in your mind.

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Rebellion is my child’s sin.

Training my child to rebel is mine.

Does that mean that every person with a rebellious child is guilty of training them to rebel?

Not necessarily. You and I could be the 5th Parent – leading our children with the only parenting style that glorifies God – and still have our kids rebel.

It’s happened to God every day since Adam ate the forbidden fruit. And as our reviewer noted, God is “the ultimate model of a perfect parent.”  Cleary He’s not to blame for his children’s rebellion.

But, we’re not God, and — I don’t know about you — but I’m not a very consistent 5th Parent. And, because of that, there are things that I do on a painfully regular basis that actually encourage my children to rebel against my authority . . . and ultimately God’s.

I think it’d be foolish to exonerate ourselves too flippantly. It’s easy to blame our children for their rebellion because they are to blame. But it’s significantly harder to see the fault in us. And that’s why we’re talking about it today. We need to premeditatedly examine our parenting to see if we’re worthy of a millstone necklace.

Thankfully, God knew we’d struggle with this, and He gives us direction to resist Provocative Parenting. And that’s where we get back to Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21, “[Parents], do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Many authors have compiled fantastic lists of things that provoke our kids. Our most recent guest, Tim Challies wrote at least two articles about this very thing which I’ll link for you in the description.

But we need to understand that provoking our children to anger or bitterness is not the worst case scenario. Anger and bitterness are just two fruits of idolatrous thinking. Rebellion is another.

Think about your own life. How fond are you of the people at whom you’re mad? How willing are you to submit to someone against whom you’re bitter?

Likely, at one point or another we’ve all made the wicked choice to rebel against an authority because we were angry or bitter or discouraged. And, Lord willing, you’ve since repented and grown.

As a side note — if you haven’t dealt with that, how do you expect to model humble submission for your children? Please take that to heart.

Okay, so let’s look at how we “Train Our Children to Rebel,” and I want to start right here in Ephesians 6. the second part of the verse says, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Number one, if you want your kids to rebel against God,

  1. Do not discipline your children.
    • The Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary says this, Discipline is “the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose commands and admonitions, reproof and punishment). It also includes the training and care of the body.”
    • Discipline embodies the broader concept of discipling. And that’s what we want to be — intentional, premeditated, disciple-making parents.
    • We need to educate our kids in the things of God. We need to train them to be a servant of Christ. We must cultivate their minds and morals in line with the Word of God. We must also command and admonish, reprove and correct.
    • Lest we read into this our own misunderstandings, the Greek word translated “discipline” includes consequences, but also reaches far beyond mere correction.
    • Unless, of course, you want your child to rebel. In that case, do not discipline her.
  2. Do not instruct them in the Lord.
    • The word translated instruction at the end of Ephesians 6:3 is the Greek word nouteteo we studied in episode 4. It’s one of the most dynamic ways we’ve been commanded to influence our kids and the greater body of Christ.
    • But not only does Paul tell us to admonish our kids, he goes further to say, “in the Lord.” Just in case we forgot.
    • But if you want your child to rebel, I recommend you instruct them in the Failure Philosophies of the world instead of God’s Truth.
    • We spent so much time talking about the Failure Philosophies the world crams into its movies in episode 14. In our 23rd and 24th shows we looked at the Failure Philosophies our culture preaches in its music. We talked all through the month of February about the twisted beliefs the world has about sexuality, emotions, and love. There is so much wicked curriculum out there, I recommend you let your child fill their brains with all the popular music, movies, and books.
    • That will do more to encourage their rebellious heart than anything else I know.
    • But that’s only if you want them to rebel.
  3. Don’t be an example of submission.
    • I love Tim Challies list of ways to provoke your kids to anger, because they all fit under this category. His basic list was, if you want to make your kids mad,
      • Be good instead of holy
      • Be hypocritical instead of authentic
      • Be doubtful instead of confident
      • Be fearful instead of bold
      • Be angry instead of patient
      • Be aloof instead of involved
      • Be proud instead of humble
    • All of these are heart issues which fundamentally call God a liar. When I’m good instead of holy, I’m not submitting to God’s will for my life — and I’m modeling that for my kids. Why should they be holy if I’m not going to be?
    • Of course, there are plenty other biblical expectations we will need to ignore. Find any command and just do the opposite. Doing any of these will show your son he doesn’t need God. Life works out just fine without Him.
    • By the way, you can also encourage your children’s rebellion by speeding, complaining about the weather, judging everyone at church, talking out of both sides of your mouth, and refusing to be joyful and content until you’ve had your coffee.
    • So, if you want your kids to rebel, don’t ever let them see what submissive obedience to Christ looks like.
  4. Don’t have biblical expectations.
    • If you haven’t heard episode entitled “The 5th Way to Parent,” I would highly recommend you check it out. It’s one of our most downloaded shows — for good reason. In that episode we look at four fleshly responses to expectations. We all have them. We all expect the ball to fall back to the ground when we throw it, and we all expect the car to start when we turn the key, and we expect our children to wash the dishes when it’s their scheduled evenings.
    • This idea of expectations encompasses two things: 1. Does the expectation glorify God? and 2. Does our response to unfulfilled expectations glorify God?
    • If I want my kids to rebel against me and their Creator, it’s best that I have unbiblical expectations that I work toward in an unbiblical way. It’s also very important to respond unbiblically when my expectations aren’t met.
    • In this way I’ll be encouraging my kids to do unbiblical things and modeling for them the unbiblical responses I want them to have.
    • They will surely become the rebel I want them to be.


I love satire and sanctified sarcasm. It helps us see the ridiculousness of our world views. But we all know that rebellious children are the last things we want.

We want kids who love the Lord.

And that’s why our next episode has an unnecessarily long title — “Practical Anti-Terrorism: Applying Truth to a Terrorist with the Communication House and Revolving Priorities.”

Episode 44 is the culmination of a seven part series on parenting tools. I’m very excited about it for a number of reasons.

  1. We’re going to try to use all of the parenting tools we’ve discussed to work through real-life parenting issues.
  2. As we try to accomplish that goal, we’re going to do a lot of role-playing. I find this very because it gives us ideas for how to respond in moment.
  3. I have a surprise guest joining me to help me tie a bow on this series and equip you with Christ-honoring tools for leading your families.

If this series has been a benefit to you, I hope you’ll follow us on social media. Every day we post unique information on all our social media outlets. You can Like and Follow Truth.Love.Parent. on Facebook and Twitter, and you can follow me on Twitter @AMBrewster.

And don’t forget to check out today’s review on iTunes and leave one of your own while you’re there!

Breaking the hard-heart of a rebel is a painful and stressful work. And it has to be done, but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t raise a rebel in the first place?

See you next time.

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