Pleasers or Pouters
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to Paul's Ephesian letter, remembering that we are using the paragraph which begins with verse 22 of Ephesians, chapter 5, and continues through verse 4 of chapter 6 as a basis for our discussions. We have discussed the subject, “Partners or Peons,” or the relationship of the husband and wife, and we suggested that if the wife takes her place according to rank as taught in the Scriptures, then she is a partner and not a peon. If the husband takes his place according to rank as taught in the Scriptures, then he is a partner and not a peon. If each one takes his own place, this will provide the tranquillity which is essential if our homes, which are God's namesake on this earth, are to provide the effective testimony they should.

The Subject of Children

We are going to think with you about the subject of children under the terms, “Pleasers or Pouters.” There is nothing which can add to the tranquillity of a home and produce a greater testimony than a child who is bent on pleasing his parents. Nothing can bring greater tranquillity to a home than that. By the same token, nothing can disturb the tranquillity of a home and spoil its testimony like a pouting child.

So, for you children and young people, I have a question: Are you a pleaser or a pouter? Think it through. Are you a pleaser or a pouter? And for you parents, because it will be your responsibility to train your child in the right fashion, I have this question for you: Are you rearing in your home pleasers or pouters? Think it through.

Notice in Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 1:

Ephesians 6

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
2Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

If these commandments are followed in the rearing of children, you will not be rearing pouters in your home. You will be rearing pleasers who will contribute to the tranquillity of your home.

One Who Pleases

May I refresh your minds as to Webster's definition of a “pleaser.” A pleaser is one who affords satisfaction; a pleaser is one who is agreeable. If you are rearing your children to afford you satisfaction, then you are doing what God wants you to do. If you are rearing your children to be agreeable–now wait just a minute. I am not thinking about mealy-mouthed children who are afraid to express their opinions. I am not thinking about children who dare not open their mouths in disagreement for fear of getting a backhand that sends them reeling across the room. I am talking about children who desire to please their parents, children who want to be agreeable in relation to the injunctions that are laid down.

One Who Pouts

Again, let me refresh your minds as to Webster's definition of a “pouter.” I like definitions which are picture-phrases. Webster says a pouter is one who thrusts our his lip in displeasure. Have you ever seen anyone with his lip stuck out? He doesn't need to go around saying, “I don't like what you just said”; he just sticks out his lip. In fact, you may have your children so under your control that they don't dare say that they don't like what you have done, but they can still stick out their lips.

Webster said a pouter is one who thrusts out his lip in displeasure, one who looks sullen–have you ever had any sullen looks around your house?–one who is ill-humored, one who is unsociable. Have you some children in your home who, when something happens that displeases them, retire to their rooms, and you make the very grievous mistake of begging them to come out? Are you raising a pleaser or a pouter?

One Reason for Disobedience

One reason I am addressing myself at the moment to parents is to remind you that obedience does not come naturally. Disobedience is the result of the human race's not wanting to retain God in its knowledge. You are familiar with what is recorded in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, where he describes the manner in which the human race rejected the knowledge of God. In verse 28, he said:

Romans 1

28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers,
30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil t things, [listen closely] disobedient to parents.

This is the result of the human race's not wanting to retain God in its knowledge. I am wondering if this is the reason in these last days disobedience to parents is on the increase. I am wondering whether it is not due to the present trend of removing God from public life and public society.

Disobedience In the Last Days

Turn, please, to Paul's second letter to Timothy, chapter 3, as I remind you that he very plainly declares how, as the days of this earth draw to a close, the last days will be marked:

II Timothy 3

1…perilous times shall come.
2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.
4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;
5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

We read the entire sentence, but we are interested especially in the phrase in verse 2, “disobedient to parents.” This, in my opinion, is one of the characteristics of the end time which is finding fertile food in the present practice of removing any emphasis upon God from our public life and our public relationships.

The Meaning of ”Obey”

Go back, please, to Ephesians, chapter 6, as I suggest to you three mental pegs upon which you may hang some of the thoughts I want to leave with you in relation to this one paragraph. In it I see a requirement, a reason, and a result. The requirement is twofold. The first portion of it is, “Children, obey your parents.” Children, this is your responsibility. Parents, it is your responsibility to see that it is done. This word “obey” is a translation of one of several Greek words translated by our English word “obey”; this particular one suggests the idea, literally, of looking up, of paying attention, of taking heed.

Do I hear someone say, “I thought we were talking about obeying, not listening.” We are talking about obeying, and a vital factor in obtaining obedience is hearing. Be sure that your child has heard you, if you expect him to obey. Teach your child that he is to look at you, not only figuratively, but literally.

Getting a Child's Attention

Mothers who stand across the room and yell at their children to do thus and so are making a very grave mistake. Fathers who scream from behind a newspaper for their children to stop whatever they are doing are making a very serious mistake. Especially when very small children are addressed by their parents, thy should be so handled that you know your child has heard what you say. It might even be necessary for you to take that little face in your hand and to cause the eyes to look up toward you, and for you to say, “Mother wants you to do this,” or, “Father wants you to do this.” Be sure that they have heard.

I have dealt with problems in the course of the years that have stemmed from a child's having a physical hearing problem, and the parents were so oblivious to the need of their child that they did not even know it. They just dismissed it by saying, “He never hears anything I say. He never pays any attention.” I can think of two instances where the child actually had a physical impediment in his hearing. Be sure your child has heard.

And will you keep in mind that hearing is not related only to hearing the sound. You have not heard unless you have comprehended. That is the reason the Scripture addresses us as spiritual children of the heavenly kingdom: “He that hath spiritual ears, let him hear.” Hear with comprehension.

Continuous Obedience

I would like to suggest that the grammatical construction of this injunction, “Children, obey your parents,” indicates that it should be a continuous thing. I know of nothing more important in raising children who will please you and cause you satisfaction than consistency in the matter of obedience. It should be a continuous thing.

It is not a matter of requiring obedience only when you have the time and the energy to see that they obey. It is not a matter of requiring obedience only when company is about. It must be a continuous thing. It does get wearisome, doesn't it? How often must you keep on saying the same thing! I have had parents say to me, “I say it one time and that's all.” Well, you are very unwise. “I speak once and expect obedience.” You are very unwise.

Do you know anything about the cutting of a large diamond into several fragments? Do you realize that the diamond cutter strikes one blow with his hammer and with his chisel, and if he were like the parents of whom I speak, he would say, “That's it.” But he doesn't. He strikes another blow, another blow, another blow. How many? I don't know and he doesn't. But with that last blow the diamond shatters exactly the way he intended. If he had withheld the last blow, the gem would never have been cut. We have a lot of uncut glass in our families because we quit before the last blow is struck–and I am not speaking about corporal punishment at the moment.

Obedience In the Lord

“Children, obey your parents.” Did you notice in this passage of Scripture the realm in which this obedience is demanded? Look at it: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” That last phrase is tremendously important, for much of the disobedience which is inexplicable to the average parent today is related to the fact that the child is in wrong relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. What is needed in some instances is for your child to be born again, or if the child is born again, for your child to be brought into fellowship with the Lord. You may be trying to do in the energy of the flesh–because you have not waited long enough on the Lord for the perception you need–what seems to you an almost impossible task, when it could be done with a fraction of the effort if you would take the time to see that the child is in right relationship to the Lord.

The Expositor's New Testament explains this phrase, “in the Lord,” as “a Christian obedience fulfilled in communion with Christ.” Now, your little ones don't present the major problems in obedience, do they? Oh, you are interested in starting them out right; you are not interested in heading them in the right direction; but they are not the major problem. The major problem rests with children when they get old enough to assert their independence and decide whether they will or will not obey. Before you throw your hands up in desperation and say, “There is no solution to the problem,” check their relationship to the Lord.

Obedience In Essential Things

Turn, please, to Colossians, chapter 3, verse 20, and notice a companion verse to that at which we have been looking:

Colossians 3

20Children, obey your parents in all things.

That suggests the second realm in which this obedience should be expected: in the realm of all things–in relation to all things where obedience should be expected. We are now coming to a very critical area in this discussion. Are you really sure that you want your child to be obedient, or do you just want your child to become a reflection of yourself? How much liberty do you give your children in relation to the clothes they wear? As a parent you have a right, an obligation, to see that your girls dress in all modesty, which is becoming to a godly profession (I Timothy 2:9,10). But, really now, do you have any right to demand that a child wear red if she wants to wear black, when the red dress and the black dress are hanging side by side? “I certainly have a right,” a mother says. All right, let me ask you this: Why do you want her to do it? “Well, I just think she looks prettier in this color than she does in the other color.” She may not think so.

Before you decide that your child is disobedient, check the realm in which you are demanding obedience. It could very well be that the reason you are not successful in obtaining obedience in the things which are essential is that you are needlessly concerned in the areas which are nonessential. Think that through and make your own application.

Honoring Parents

The second portion of the requirement, if you will go back to Ephesians, chapter 6, is found in verse 2:

Ephesians 6

2Honor thy father and mother;…

As I read those words to you, I would like to suggest that this is a much deeper command than obedience, and I would like to suggest what the Expositor's New Testament has suggested in relation to this injunction. It says–and this is exceedingly important–that it is a lesson that needs to be learned: “Obedience is the duty. Honor is the disposition of which the obedience is born.” Let me repeat that for you, because I have never heard it better expressed by anyone: “Obedience is the duty–that is, it is the duty of every child to obey his parents–but the disposition of which that obedience is born lies in honor.” Honor thy father and thy mother, children, and obedience will not be a problem. And parents, teach your children to honor you, and obedience will be much easier to obtain. The word in the original text of which this word “honor” is the translation is a word which speaks of esteem, of value, and it even includes the idea of love. Children, evaluate your parents, and treat them with the respect that their character demands.

An Application

Now, listen carefully, because I am going to tread on some very thin ice. How many of you parents could say to your children–I am talking about those who are old enough to comprehend, which is where the real problem begins–how many of you could say to your children, “Children, evaluate us, and render us the obedience which you feel we are due.” I am not going to suggest you do that. I am simply asking how many of you would feel safe in doing it? The parents who say to their children, “Don't do as I do. Do as I say,” could never do that. Parents who, when their children ask the very normal question, “Why am I asked to do this?”, say, “Shut up. I said it. Do it.”, could never–they wouldn't dare–ask their children to render them the esteem of which they think they are worthy.

May I emphasize, not only because the Word of God says it, but because experience proves to me that it is true–listen carefully to what I say–that if you win the heart of your child, then you will have his will. Win his heart and you will have his will.

A Personal Illustration

One of my children said something to me one day that horrified me, and yet caused me when I was alone to thank God that somehow–I say somehow because I am as human and full of faults and failings as anyone else–somehow I had won her heart. You know what she said? One day as she put her arms around me, she said, “Daddy, I would rather displease the Lord than displease you.” That horrified me, because her allegiance should be to God first. But privately I thanked God that I had won her heart and won her will.

Not long ago one of my children who has reached the age of adulthood wanted to do something. It was not something of which I could approve. It was not a matter of sin, of wrongdoing; I want to emphasize that. It was a matter of opinion–of my opinion as being different from someone else's opinion. This adult child said to me, “Daddy, if you tell me not to do it, I will not do it. I love you too much to do it if you don't want me to do it.” I said, “I can't tell you that. You are an adult. Here are two opinions. Both of them have their roots in the Scripture. You make your decision. All I ask is that you be fully convinced in your own mind, not of what someone else thinks, but of what you know is right from the standpoint of the Scripture.” Then I said, “When you have made your decision, let me know.” I never mentioned it again. Some time after that, she wrote me and said, “Daddy, once again I will say this and I will say it no more. Tell me that you don't want me to do it and I won't. But if you don't tell me, I am going to do it, because I believe that my position is right.” I wrote her, “Honey, if this is what you believe is right before God, then you have my blessing.”

Letting a Child Go

The reason I am emphasizing that is this: All too often we read the Scripture, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he reaches the age of maturity, he will act in the manner in which he is trained,” and we mean that he will act in the manner in which we want him to act. There is room for difference of opinions among adults. And some folk do not know when their children are no longer children.

My wife and I prayed consistently through the years, and this is a very important prayer to pray, that God would give us the wisdom to know when to let our children go. When the matter was first brought up, by this child of whom I am speaking, I breathed a little prayer while we were talking, “Lord, is this the time to let this child go?” And although the Lord has never spoken to me audibly, so don't get excited, the Lord definitely said to me, “This is the time. You have asked for wisdom to know when to let your children go. This is the time.”, and I withdrew.

The Parent Who is At Fault

Children who are going to obey their parents must see in their parents that which they esteem to be of great value–so great that they would do almost anything rather than displease them. I would like to suggest to you that maybe you are looking in the wrong area for the reason for disobedience. Maybe it isn't a rebellious child. Maybe it isn't a self-willed child. Maybe it is a parent who has been so lax in his own relationship to the Lord that the child has no respect not esteem for him, nor attaches any real value to what he says or to what he does.

Pleasing God Through Obedience

May I suggest to you the reasons this requirement of obedience should be made? Look again at chapter 6:

Ephesians 6

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.

This word “right” is not a word which suggests that it is a fitting thing for you to do; it is a word which suggests something that is required by law: Children, obey your parents. This is not only the law of men, but it is the law of God. Many people who are conscientious about law in any number of other areas are careless in this area. They do not demand obedience from their children.

Colossians, chapter 3, verse 20, suggests to us that the reason for requiring obedience is that obedience is well pleasing unto the Lord. Of course, that means it is commendable in the Lord's sight. Perhaps if you have no other way of getting obedience from your child–that is, if your life is such that you cannot draw attention to it–you might be able to gain obedience from your child by suggesting that this obedience which you ask will please the Lord. Particularly when children are born again, particularly when children are in right relationship to the Lord, this will gain obedience when nothing else will.

The Blessing of Obedience

What is the result of obeying and honoring parents? Look again at verses 2 and 3 of Ephesians, chapter 6, for it might be wise to remind children of the result:

Ephesians 6

2Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3That it may be well with thee…

That is the first reason. The first reason for eliciting obedience from your child is that things will go better this way. Much has been written and said to remind us that children have lived to say, “I should have listened,” when it is too late; the damage has been done. Somehow, inculcate in the heart of your child the realization that this is the best route. It pays off; it will be well with you.

If your child is a Christian, you can emphasize to your child that disobedience to parents is something that grieves the Holy Spirit, and if it grieves the Holy Spirit then the blessing of the Lord cannot rest upon the child as an individual. If you have the confidence of your child, you might be able to sit down with him, if he should say some day, “I do not understand why everything is not going as it should. Everything is going wrong,” you might be able to sit down with him and say, not talking down to him, but talking with him, “I don't know, either, why things are not right. But have you considered the possibility that because you persist in doing this thing which you know is in disobedience to our wishes, God has removed His blessing from you?” Oftentimes that will bring about results when nothing else will.

Obedience and Long Life

Notice the second result that is mentioned:

Ephesians 6

3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

If I were to say to you that every child who is obedient to his parents can be guaranteed to live to 99 l/2 years of age, you would think I was ridiculous, so I am not going to say that. Many folk who have been obedient to parents have died at an early age. So let's not be impractical. Let's recognize a psychological principle which cannot be disputed. It is that living according to God's plans and regulations in any area provides tranquillity, and tranquillity provides long life.

Why is it that is taking the lives of more men today than anything else? No, it isn't cancer. It is tension. Although some of the tension is related to things over which we have no control, some of the tension is related to the fact that we are are not living according to God's rules and regulations. Children who learn to obey their parents can expect tranquillity. Tranquillity can mean health and prosperity.

Parents, the question again: Are you rearing in your home someone who affords you pleasure, or are you rearing in your home someone who goes about with his lip stuck out, sullen and unsociable? You have a real responsibility before the Lord.

Closing Prayer

Our Father, we would ask today that Thou wilt give the children and young people who are able to comprehend any portion of this discussion a real desire to please and not pout. And then we would pray that Thou would give those of us who are parents unusual wisdom to discern the pouting before it has warped the personality. Give us that wisdom which is needed to rear children who are able to afford us pleasure. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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