“The challenge of discipline is rooted in our shared brokenness as human beings.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 24, 2021
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4, ESV
What does it mean to discipline a child? This is an incredibly loaded and complex question. For most of us, whether reflecting on how our parents raised us, or how we have raised our own children, discipline is closely related to bad behavior. When a child is out of line, a parent is there to correct, and if needed, punish as a way to emphasize the severity of the offense.
On the one hand, this seems simple and straightforward. Yet why is it that so many of us have a complicated and often painful relationship with our parents, largely based on their failures to discipline in faithful and redemptive ways? Similarly, if you are a parent yourself, why do you so often feel that your discipline is somehow lacking and ineffective, perhaps causing more harm than good?
The challenge of discipline is rooted in our shared brokenness as human beings. Yes, time and age may have given us as parents a degree of wisdom and insight into how to live a good life, yet our children are not the only ones in need of ongoing direction and discipline! As St. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6, though children are prone to anger, fathers can easily provoke! Both are forms of brokenness, and both require the ongoing grace of God at work in the life of the believer, adult or child.
One of the lies we’ve believed about parenting is that we are able to control our kids. We have a vision of who they are meant to be, and we think we can discipline, i.e. force, them into a certain way of life. Your child, and every human being that has ever lived, is a free, unique, and unrepeatable child of God. While you have influence and wisdom to share with your children, you must also learn to respect the life of God in them and the journey of life that he is leading them on.
In light of this, discipline is less about managing or controlling outcomes and is far more closely related to embodying a way of life that is worthy of imitation. Discipline is a holistic word, not limited to correction in an isolated sense, but speaks to a complete way of life. It is the daily practice and expression of the way of Christ, lived out by the parent for the child to see and emulate, not out of duty or obligation, but love.
Father, as you lead and guide us in your love, help us to faithfully discipline our children, modelling for them the love we receive from you, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
What practical steps can you take today to discipline your children from a place of love, not control?
Keith and Kristyn Getty: His Eye Is on the Sparrow
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