Hannah and Eli: A Tale of Two Parenting Styles

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 2, Romans 2, Jeremiah 40, Psalm 15-16

Has it ever bothered you to read Jesus’ words about loving Him more than your own kids (Matt. 10:37)? He actually says that if we love our kids more than Him, we are not worthy of Him.

It seems – at first – selfish on His part and, to be honest, a bit unloving on our part to do so.

Unless. . .

Unless loving Him more than anything and everything is what is best for our kids.


At the end of the day, every parent wants their child to thrive. What would ultimately make our children thrive is full surrender to the Lord Jesus. What our children need MOST from mom and dad, then, are parents who are fully surrendered to Him.

Our kids need parents who love Jesus more than they love them.

Case in point: Hannah & Samuel VS. Eli & Hophni and Phinehas.

Hannah eagerly committed her son, Samuel, to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:27-28; 2:1-10). This meant she didn’t get to see him all the time and obviously had to make numerous personal sacrifices. It cost her to give her son to the Lord, demonstrating her love for Him above anything else. But the result was worth it: Samuel grew up and developed just like our Lord Jesus did centuries later (1 Samuel 2:26 and Luke 2:52).

Compare that with the priest at the time, Eli. The Lord had given him not one, but two sons. Apparently, however, Eli loved his sons and desired to please them more than he did the God who gave them to him (1 Samuel 2:29).

The result? They were known as worthless men who did not know the Lord (1 Samuel 2:12).

The lesson for us parents? There are too many to count. But a HUGE take away here is the imperative reminder that our children need God more than they need anything else. If we want our children to thrive – and I believe all who read this definitely want it – then what they need MOST is not an education, an iPod, 12 practices a week, and the latest clothes. What they need MOST from mom and dad is a mom and dad who love Jesus more than anything.

Let me be clear: my children have and do all of the above. They go to school, play on their handheld devices, are involved in “extra” activities, and wear nice clothes. I am not saying these things are bad – per se.

But it must be carefully noted here that the issue in 1 Samuel 2 was NOT Samuel or Hophni and Phinehas. The issue was the commitment level on behalf of their parents. What is most frightening for me is that obviously Hophni and Phinehas had a dad who was committed to the work of the Lord. He was a priest for crying out loud! But at the end of the day, he put his children above his God. His devotion to the Lord was a “side job” compared to “caring for” his boys.

Parents, let’s be real: What do you want MOST for your children? How, specifically, are you helping them see what it means to love Jesus fully? What are some adjustments you can make today to redirect that priority?

The difference could be well behaved church kids who grow up with divided, evil hearts; or radical kids who grow up risking it all for the sake of God’s glory among the nations.

Which would be most loving for your child?


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