Disciplining your children is difficult.
For me, its mostly two-faceted. (Is that even a correct phrase?) I fall under two extremes: venting my frustration through discipline and ignoring sinful behavior because I'm lazy or tired or its inconvenient.
Are you with me? The past couple of weeks have been difficult in the discipline arena. I want my children (namely my almost three year old) to behave rightly. My reasons seemed appropriate: I want her to grow up to be a responsible, godly adult. I want her to respect authority, which starts in the home. I want children whom others look to as examples of how they should live their lives.
Responsible, godly, respectable, example...these words kept ringing in my ears as I struggled to punish and correct.
In a moment of "last resort" - I stopped by the pastor's office yesterday after church to see if I could borrow the book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. I first heard of the book years ago in Bible college, then it was referenced again in a few biblical counseling seminars I attended, even friends recommended it. I won't say it was pride, but more a lack of need that caused me to dismiss it. I wasn't at a place yet to truly understand what shepherding my child's heart would need to look like.
Then parenthood came...what a busy time! I spent so much of my nesting on material things, like getting the nursery ready, buying diapers and bottles; little did I know how important it was for me to be focused on the eternal during those days.
Hear me, I haven't neglected the Lord in my parenting. If anything, I have desperately thrown myself at the foot of his cross each night, begging for forgiveness and guidance...and new mercies the next day.
So, yesterday, I borrowed the book from my pastor. We ate lunch and with anticipation, put the children down for afternoon naps. I couldn't wait to dive in. (You know the feeling of "want" when it comes to the Lord...knowing He has a word for you that meets exactly your need at the moment. It was with that kind of anticipation that I opened the book.)
I'm only through chapter four, but Lord has already begun to do a great work in my heart as it pertains to correcting and guiding my children.
My focus in parenting has been justice, really. An eye for an eye, a consequence for a wrong action. I mean, isn't that what they need to know to enter this scary world we live in? Yet, behavior isn't the root of the problem. Behavior is really only the fruit of the problem.
As I prepare to continue to read and learn today, I'm shifting my focus to the cross. My children are sinful. They need Christ more than ever. Every wrong action they commit stems from a heart condition: selfishness, greed, malice, revenge...(I'll say those three, because they are prevalent in our home). Their hearts need rescuing.
My prayer today is this: Lord, help me to be your agent of change for my children. Draw them closer to you as I guide them on the path you have chosen. Help them to see a picture of Christ and his grace through me.
Now, where's that book...