Honour your parents. Really? How’s that related to financial success? In decades of financial planning and counselling I have noticed that those who spoke well of their parents tended to be better off (even financially) than those who criticized them. This is a general rule, and not always true. It’s not discussed in professional accounting circles or in university finance courses, but I think it should be. It’s a law of life that God has established for us all and the only one of the Ten Commandments with a specific reward. “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you,” Deuteronomy 5:16. Unfortunately, most Canadians have ignored the Bible during the past fifty years, so they have unwittingly missed out on this blessing. If this is the case, how do we honour parents?
- Forgive them. Bitterness and unforgiveness chain you to the past rather than helping you move forward.
- Minimize or overlook their faults—even if they have hurt you. If possible thank them for all they have done for you. As a child it is your job to respect them, not correct them.
- Praise them publicly, even if they are deceased, rather than maligning them. Identify and amplify at least one of their strengths.
- Learn from them. Ask their counsel. If you are younger simply obey them. Jesus did. Jesus kept a very low profile, living in subjection to His parents until His heavenly Father directed Him to go public.
The direct benefit from adherence to the Fourth Commandment is not only highlighted within the Ten Commandments for emphasis, but also in Ephesians 6:2. The Apostle Paul is pointing out that God rewards those who obey Him. The blessings are not always financial, but they are always real rewards, which are sometimes financial. From a grace perspective, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you at the proper time.” Most of us have only one set of parents, and these usually want the best for their children. They try to guide them to that end, although good intentions do not always guarantee good results.
In looking back on my life, I see that most of the time when I followed my parent’s counsel, I experienced worthwhile benefits. Usually there was a time delay before the advantages become apparent. One clear exception comes to mind: Whenever the Bible and parental guidance conflict. For example, in frustration my dad once told me that if I kept reading the Bible I would have to move out of the house. He did not want me to become a kooky, religious fanatic. As calmly as I could, I reminded him of his earlier promise that so long as I was attending University and doing well in school, I could live at home. He kept his word, and I was allowed to keep reading the Bible at home. When I finished my degree and got a regular job, I paid a healthy monthly rent. Not long afterwards, I became one of those “eastern bums and creeps” who came to Calgary for employment when Mayor Ralph Klein said, “There are more eastern bums and creeps in our jails than drunken Indians.” Fortunately, I met a great Western gal, settled down and we had many young’uns. It is important to note that after marriage, parental counsel takes second place to spousal counsel.
A number of years ago one of my clients gave me a book by a certain Donald Trump with the title, “Think Big and Kick Ass.” For a long time I paid little attention to it, as I was not impressed by the title. I took the book more seriously after Mr. Trump became President. I noticed that the book was dedicated, first of all, to his parents, Fred and Judy. There are no perfect parents now, nor were there any in the past. You did not pick your parents; God did. So by honouring your parents, you in fact honour God. God says, “Those who honour Me, I will honour,” 1 Samuel 2:30.