Monday, August 25, 2008

Discipline: Getting to the Heart

I realized that my last post was pretty long, so I thought I'd make this one shorter :)

I've been reading a book called Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp recently. This is a wonderful book and one I am hoping to go through with our families sometime in the future. In it he discusses discipline of children at length. One interesting thing he said that made me think was this: Discipline should always be centered around the child's disobedience toward God than merely around their disobedience toward their parents. I think many times that parents are probably tempted to punish their children because the kids have broken the rules that they have set up in their home, disrespected them in front of others, interrupted something important they were doing, disappointed them with their academics, etc. So when punishment is handed down, the child sees their behavior only as an offense against mom or dad.

Biblical discipline will centered around helping the child see their offense against God--not just against mom or dad. If all that is discussed is how they have broken the parents' rules, it is true that the child might learn over time to follow the rules of the home. But the real root of their behavior--disobedience toward God--is never addressed. So it is important that, as part of disciplining our children, we have conversations with them about what is really going on in their heart--rather than just reacting when they have wronged, disobeyed, or disappointed us.

That does not mean that the only thing discipline involves should be conversation. Scripture is clear about parents needing to use punishment in order to instruct and open their children's eyes ("Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." -Proverbs 13:24). But we must move beyond that external action and discuss with our children the condition of their heart. It's only when they realize their sinfulness against God that they will see their need of a Savior. And it's only when they bow their knee to Him that God can bring about true change in their lives.

1 comment:

Rodney said...

Good word, good word, good word. Marc, how do I communicate the gospel to my 5 year old in a way that is understandable. I have communicated to them their disobedience to God,and his parents as the authority God has put in his life, NOW how do I transition into the gospel, in a way that is true and understandable to him?