Today I am humbled to share with you a bit about what biblical discipline looks like in our home. This post is actually a follow-up to a short video series I did on Instagram on some basic biblical discipline principles we seek to apply in our parenting. I wanted to continue the conversation over here, however, in a longer format, so it is easier to reference and share. This will be, Lord willing, the first in an ongoing series.
Our culture wants to convince us that we should not discipline our children. They want to offer many different methods aside from the ones God has laid out in His word. Pointing us away from our rightful authority over our children, to false promises of obedient children with no oversight. We believe these are just plain lies! Obedience is the path to blessing. We have seen God’s faithfulness in the way he has established order. And, when heeded, bears joy and fruit. That is where we desire to walk. Not following this or that whim of society, but Biblical truth.
I want to share with you our thoughts and experiences with hopes of encouraging you in your parenting journey. As well as offering some clarification on where we stand. With so much noise from the world on this topic, it can often be a confusing subject and discussion.
Often what we are looking for in these types of articles is a fast track method to obedient children. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you, there isn’t one. But, I can offer you hope that the work and effort of applying godly child training principles in your home will bar fruit. God blesses obedience- YOUR obedience. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
This is not going to be an exegetical thesis on what the Bible says about child training. I will leave some books down below for further reference that have done a wonderful job helping us along in that. Through our study of scripture, and humbly applying ourselves to seek God’s wisdom over the years, we have uncovered some general truths that have shaped how we parent, and make decisions about particulars.
What biblical discipline looks like in our home- some distinctives
- Our children are sinners in need of saving grace, as we are.
- Children are a blessing from the Lord, and good gifts from him. All. The. Time.
- Our children are not outside the covenant promises, but within them.
- We are under God’s authority and must obey His standard. Therefore, we are called to discipline our children according to those standards (not the world’s nor our own whims)
- Because God has given us this authority, He will equip us with what is needed for this responsibility.
- Our children’s primary duty is to obey us, their parents.
- Knowing God deeper, deepens our understanding of how to parent as he does us. In other words, our own relationship as children to our heavenly Father is of primary importance to how we parent.
- Learning more how Jesus led his disciples teaches us how to lead our little “flock”.
- Each of our children are unique individuals and have differing strengths, weaknesses and gifts given to them by God.
What Biblical discipline looks like in our home- defined
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Oftentimes, where we get hung up when it comes to discipline, is misunderstanding the difference between training and discipline. Discipline is just a component of child training. It is the means of enforcing necessary training in particular cases but it is not the primary means of training our children.
Firstly, training is the main component in parenting our children. This is something we are doing all the time with our children. We are teaching, guiding, directing and exemplifying all kinds of things to them all the time. Whether we are aware of it or not! So, we desire to be intentional about seeking to do so biblically.
The Bible says we are to teach them the things of God “when we lie down, and when we rise up”. This is the basis of training. We are seeking to establish a loving, caring, trusting relationship with our children. We desire that the atmosphere in our home permeates with the love of God overflowing to them, which includes teaching them to love his law and standards.
What it is
Secondly, we discipline when a child is defiant or rebellious. Not for every infraction, but when their will crosses ours and they will not yield to us as their God given authority. We see in scripture that God disciplines those He loves, yet we also see that he gives many second chances to His children. He is very slow to exact any punishment, yet He is constantly guiding, directing, calling and seeking His own.
When a child will not obey, or is defiantly disrespectful, their willful sin breaks fellowship with us. We are under God’s authority as our children are under ours. God gives us the responsibility to bring our child back into fellowship.
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.””
Consistently using the means God has given us, has born fruitful obedience. This can vary from a stern verbal reproof (calmly and not in anger), or the rod as needed. Showing them where they have sinned and guiding them to yield their will. This is an appeal to their will. Not manipulation. The object being, that with maturity, by and by they will gain self control. Results and mere compliance are not the only goal. We are desiring to bend their will, but not crush their spirit.
After they are disciplined, we look to see them yield by seeking forgiveness and restitution. Sometimes we will prompt them with, “What do you need to do now?” or ”What do you need to say?” Then we freely give forgiveness, pray with and for them and joyfully welcome them back into fellowship.
There are different means and applications for different situations and we do not do it all perfectly all the time. This is actually what helps us the most in our parenting- seeing how imperfectly we follow Him, yet He keeps calling us back to Himself, teaching us, guiding us, and giving us grace. Our own parenting shortcomings keep us humble to see how God is so patient with us as we fail.
When we react in anger, are harsh, lose our temper, get lazy, or lack follow through, he is there ready to forgive us. We know we don’t obey perfectly. This is how we can give grace to our own children- as we have received it ourselves. Jesus was the only perfectly obedient child and He covers us, so we can go forth in confidence and in forgiveness as we parent our own.
What it is not
In this light, discipline is not meant to be used for our own prideful gain.
Nor for when we’re embarrassed or frustrated by immaturity.
Immaturity and childhood silliness, does not, by itself, break fellowship.
We are called to be the mature one in those scenarios. To put our own pride or selfishness aside and love them and use those opportunities to train and teach them. Unyielding willful sin is what breaks fellowship. Our own sanctification is at work here alongside our children’s.
What Biblical Discipline looks like in our home- the blessings
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
This is a loving and grace-filled thing to do. Giving grace to your child does not mean leaving them to their own means to deal with the sin they are entangled in. It is grace that seeks them out, lovingly guiding them back to obedience.
This is what loving discipline does.
Not manipulative anger and wrath.
Discipline is also a means we have of teaching the gospel. As our children encounter wrestling with their will and flesh, they are repeatedly confronted by their own depravity and need for a Savior. We get to direct them to Jesus, and his offering of forgiveness over and over again. For us, personally, a few of our children have come to a knowledge of saving faith right after being disciplined. The burden of sin is not one any of us were meant to carry on our own.
Our children seeing us fail, repent and continuing to seek to be obedient in this area, has encouraged them in their own struggles and obedience. It has not undermined our authority to admit wrong, it actually affirms it in our children’s eyes. Respect is gained when they see us having to humble ourselves and apologize when we sin as well.
Strong willed children
Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.1 Peter 5:2 &3
Our strong willed and stubborn children respect us more and have a more calm response the more they see we are just as “stubbornly” not going to let them defy us. Those children need a firmer approach. Not harsh. Firmly, but gently holding them accountable. Meaning WE have to be consistent and more stubborn than them to earn that respect and trust from them.
This seems to be why these kids have a tendency to “act up” or “misbehave” in settings that are unfamiliar, stressful, or like when a new baby comes. I know- the worst! But, if we can see these as opportunities to show them we care by our loving and firm discipline, they happen much less frequently.
Finally, Biblical discipline establishes trust with our child. They will see you as the parent that will do what it takes to restore them and lovingly rescue them in their sin and more and more trust your loving consistency.
A loving relationship established within a framework of boundaries enforced by loving consistent discipline will give your child confidence in you as their parent. Leading them towards trust in their God who cares for us all.
I plan to, Lord willing, get into some more specifics in future posts on what discipline looks like for our family in particular seasons, ages, and stages.
My prayer for you and your family is that you will see the blessings of biblical obedience in your home and reap the fruits of a joy filled and peaceful life as you humbly seek the Lord in this matter.
Thanks for joining me, as always, here in my little corner of the interwebs!
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