Five Fingers of Obedience

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  As parents, we know we need to teach our children to obey – but how do we do that?  One training tool that can help you instruct your children in obedience is the Five Fingers of Obedience.


Obedience training looks different as our children grow older.  Here are some tips, depending on where you are in the process.


  • Two years-Preschool: The 5 Finger of Obedience provides a way to concretely instruct your child in the principles of obedience, including:
  • Responding
  • Obeying immediately
  • Obeying completely
  • Obeying without complaint
  • Obeying without challenge

You can be assured that your child understands what obedience is by helping him to memorize the Five Fingers of Obedience.  Make sure you are consistently applying these principles both during times of non-conflict and times of correction.  As parents, you can quickly discern disobedience in relation to direct instructions by rehearsing the Five Fingers in your mind.  This, in turn, helps you to maintain consistency in your correction and other areas of training. Remember that in the life of the very young child, children obey out of duty and parents lead by their authority.


  • Grade School Age: If you have faithfully been applying the principles of biblical obedience and your child is characterized by those principles, you can begin to use the Five Fingers of Obedience as an assessment tool. Prayerfully evaluate where your child is in relationship to each of the five points. What are his current areas of weakness and strength? Decide together with your husband how you will help the child to grow in strength in all five areas. You may even want to take your child out on a ‘date’ to talk about this. Have your child memorize the applicable Scriptures so that he can set goals for strengthening areas of weakness. Here are some Scriptures for each of the five areas:
  • Responds “Yes Mommy.” This shows honor. Ex. 20:12 and Eph 6:1
  • Obeys immediately. This shows love. Eph 5:1-2
  • Obeys completely. This shows faithfulness. Col. 3:23
  • Obeys without complaint. This shows cheerfulness and contentment. Phil 2:14
  • Obeys without challenge. This show humility. Prov. 10:8 and Phil. 2:4.

Once your child is characterized by the Five Principles of Obedience, you can instruct your child in   transitioning from obedience out of duty to obedience from a heart bent on serving.

  • Middle Years: The child in this age range is transitioning from being led by parental authority to being influenced based on the strength of his relationship with his parents. He is moving from obeying out of duty to obeying out of a heart of devotion.  Continue to point your child to biblical principle for each of the 5 areas of obedience.

            1) Respond. This shows itself through honor (Ex 20:12).

2) Obey immediately. This reflects a heart of love (Eph 5:1,2).

3) Obey completely. This reflects a trustworthy heart of faithfulness (Prov. 28:13, Prov 10:9).

4) Obey without complaint. This reflects a heart of contentment and cheerfulness (Prov. 10:8, Prov 10:19).

5) Obey without challenge. This reflects a heart of humility (Prov 15:28, 13:10, 20:3).

  • Teen Years: At this point in time, you are your teen’s coach.  Your goal should be that your teen continues to submit out of the goodness of your relationship with him/her, not on the basis of your authority.  You can use the following five points in giving spiritual counsel to your teen and encourage your teens to make them their own.

            1) Courteous speech. A self-generated response (1Peter 2:17, Eph 6:1-3, Ex 20:12).

2) Loving service to the family and others. This is shown by promptness (Gal 5:13c, Eph 5:1,2, Col 3:23, 24b, Prov 21:21).

3) Faithful service. This is shown by someone who does what he/she is told completely (Prov 3:3, 20:6, 25:13, 19).

4) Cheerful service. This is shown by doing a task without complaining (Prov 10:8, 15:28, 10:19, 21:23).

5) Humble service. This is shown by doing a task without challenge (Prov 8:13, 13:10, 18:12, 20:3).



The five fingers of obedience can be a helpful tool to you, regardless of where you are in your parenting journey.



Randy and Kathy Loewen have been married for 36 years.  They live in Aurora, IL.  They have 4 adult children, 2 daughter-in-loves and 6 grandchildren.  Kathy has been involved in the GEMS Naperville, IL ministry for 20 years.  The Five Fingers of Obedience tools are just one of many tools that they have developed over the years.
Follow ContactMom.Life:
Articles and blogs from this author are the compilation of work from the organization as well as works submitted by our many volunteer guest writers.
Latest posts from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *