I wish someone would hand me a script for parenting.
When my son at age five didn’t want to clean his room, that script would have fed me the exact lines that would galvanize him into action. When that same son still doesn’t want to clean his room a dozen years later, it would give me the right words to motivate him.
I wish the Bible gave us that script. I wish it was a precise instruction manual of Jesus-centered responses to an eight-year-old’s blatant disobedience as well as an eighteen-year-old’s (more subtle but often more annoying) eye rolls.
I’m not alone. In our research with parents at the Fuller Youth Institute, we’ve often heard over the years that many parents wish they talked with their kids more about faith, but often don’t know how. They wish they had the perfect script for parenting, but it’s just not in the Bible. I’ve studied and memorized the scriptures enough to know that’s not how they best equip us as parents. In fact, the Bible contains surprisingly few passages that explicitly and unquestionably address parent-child dynamics.
In other words:
“What are the best parenting Bible verses?” isn’t a bad question, but it might not be one the Bible answers.
What the Bible does give us are stories of a lot of complicated families. Really complicated. Some of those families make our own less-than-ideal (or outright convoluted) relationship dynamics seem less unique. But Scripture doesn’t stop there. It also gifts us with a world-class collection of principles and practices that help us with all relationships and all decisions—including those involving family members. The commands, promises, and proverbs that are true for how we love and serve our friends, neighbors, and strangers are just as true for how we love and serve our sons and daughters. That’s why the best Bible verses about Jesus-centered parenting are the best verses about Jesus-centered living.
I believe you will be a more empowered and fulfilled parent as you become a more empowered and fulfilled follower of Jesus. You’ll pour out God’s love, grace, hope and peace on your children as you are showered in them yourselves. So allow me to suggest 10 verses about life and relationships that are particularly important and powerful for parents, all of which have been meaningful in my own parenting journey.
10 verses every parent can turn to for help and hope
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Nothing prompts my fears and anxiety like wondering about my kids’ futures. This verse nudges me to convert my worries into prayers.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
I realize this is an unconventional verse to include in a list of parenting passages, but this is Dave’s and my “go-to verse” when our kids ask us why God would allow suffering—their own as well as others’.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
In this passage written to settle the circumcision debate, Paul establishes a new litmus test for what is best to do as Christ-followers: whatever is best for others. When in doubt, choose what is most loving.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
This is my husband’s favorite passage of Scripture and he lives it every day as a dad (I kid you not, he’s fixing a couch the kids broke as I type this).
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
While we’re on the topic of favorite Scripture passages, this is mine. It reminds me that nothing truly fruitful happens—in my family or my ministry—unless I’m rooted in Jesus.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This classic Pauline description of love hangs just inside our son’s bedroom door as a constant reminder of how he wants to treat other athletes on the court and field. I hope that spirit spills over to all of us in all facets of our lives.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Our family chose this verse as a theme for a recent short-term mission trip to Brazil; its simple command to act justly, mercifully, and humbly help us stay mindful of others’ needs.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I often find myself praying these various pieces of spiritual armor for all five of us, asking God to protect us from the lies and schemes of the evil one.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
All the Powells do, all we have, and all we are is made possible through the grace of Christ. While our relationships with each other are a great gift, the gift of grace is even greater.
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
In the midst of the hectic pace of both our family schedule and our overall culture, I find great peace knowing that we can take refuge in God’s goodness and sovereignty.
While the Bible does not offer a script, instruction manual, or road map for parenting, its words offer our family—and yours—lots of bread for the journey.
What other verses inspire you to better love and serve your children?
All Bible quotations are from the NIV.