(This is where I was sitting when I wrote this post. Beautiful weather in a beautiful surrounding. Have I said that I love New England in the spring?)
We listen to correction and accept discipline with a submissive spirit.
Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
A couple of weeks ago, my kids had a really tough week. Something got in their britches and caused them to move in their weaknesses instead of their strengths. What that meant was that they were at each other’s throats. I don’t mean occasionally – I mean for the whole day, for several days.
Finally, when I came to the end of my patience and creativity, I sat them all down. We had a heart-to-heart talk about what they thought was the cause of their strife. For each of them it was something different: tired, nothing to look forward to, agitated by the strife around them, etc.
For each of these excuses, I totally understand. I heard someone say once that there are no bad kids or husbands – they’re just tired or hungry. No one is at their best when they’re bored, tired, or hungry. I get that. However, to take a personal issue and allow it, with no filters, to give you an excuse to hurt those around you is not OK. I don’t care how bored, tired, or hungry you are.
So we continued our talk around the subject of obedience. I read to them from a book that one of my kids is using as her character book, because there is a great chapter in there on obedience. The subject was defined very clearly, given scriptural references to back it up, and specifically and yet gently talked about the consequences for not establishing a habit of obedience in your life.
In short, I corrected them. I redirected their hearts and actions. I called for them to make course changes in their behavior.
And you know what? They did it! They listened to my correction submissively, yet actively participating, and made corrections. Immediately, my eldest called a “kid meeting”. They convened together upstairs while I made lunch for us, and they agreed to participate in a book study/Bible study daily, led by themselves. They picked a topic, agreed upon it (when they hadn’t agreed upon anything in over a week!) and committed to work on their responses to me and to each other.
The next day, they got up before school, and I found them on the couch reading from a book, praying together, and having an honest discussion.
From the Clarkson’s book, 24 Family Ways, there are many suggestions for how to teach this. We asked several of the listed questions to get conversation around the topic started:
Why should an athlete follow his coach’s instructions and advice? What would happen if he/she didn’t?
How would you train a new puppy to follow your commands?
What are some things you really don’t like to do, but when you make yourself do them, you like what you are able to do?
What would your life be like if you never received instruction from your parents?
This family way has been invaluable to us. It is a constant reminder that we will always have obedience to deal with and correction to submit to.
(My view while writing this post – a lovely New England church. )