Godly women, wife, mother, friend series
Discipline is painful and peaceful
First of all, I am not writing on the topic of being a Godly mother because I am the best example of one, rather it is an ongoing process of redemption that God takes us through over the course of our life. If at any point I stop and say, “I’m a really great mom because I work so hard (rather than by God’s grace),” then I have stopped growing and looking at ways I need to change. So much of parenting is about seeing our own faults and failures through our kids (they so innocently point them out), and being willing to repent and change rather than only telling our kids to repent and change. The most frustrating times for me as a mom have been when I see my kids replicating things I do wrong. As we allow God to grow and discipline us, it is more peaceful and freeing to love our kids as we discipline them and help them grow.
I have 5 kids, currently ages 14-22, 3 boys and 2 girls. The little years were crazy, meaning super hard and super fun sometimes in the same moment! Constantly needing more sleep, constantly picking up messes, constantly feeling inadequate to raise a human being correctly, constantly preparing food, constantly needed by someone, constantly correcting and encouraging, constantly wanting just one moment of silence, and constantly amazed that God thought I could do this! I always joked that He gave me 5 kids because I needed so much work and they were going to force me to change and depend on Jesus like I never knew I could. It wasn’t a joke because that is what happened. Each of my kids grew me in different ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen. If it wasn’t for wanting so much to love them and have them walk with Jesus, I would have given up many times.
Think about this, our kids come into this world knowing NOTHING! They are sweet but sinful babies, and we are responsible to teach them love, forgiveness, compassion, strength, humility, peace, patience, kindness, truth versus lies, decision making, dangers, wisdom, and all the practical skills they will need in life. God has given us kids as a blessing to steward, to protect, to provide for, and to point to Jesus.
We cannot take this responsibility lightly because it puts them in harms way if we do. As Hebrews tells us, “discipline seems painful rather than pleasant” in the moment but as we are trained by it (which means learning to receive and walk through it with Jesus), we will see the fruit by God’s grace. We also can’t give them these things perfectly but we can teach them about Jesus who will never leave them or forsake them. We can help them understand the role of the Holy Spirit who comforts, provides wisdom, helps us bear fruit, teaches, guides in Truth, gives spiritual gifts, dwells in us, and convicts us of sin (John 14:26; Eph. 1:17-20; John 16:13-15; 1 Cor. 2:10-11; 1 Cor, 3:16; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; Gal. 5:22-25; Rom. 8:10-11, 26-27; Eph. 1:13; John 16:7-8) .
There is a big difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is a way of correcting that starts with your love for the child and ends with the child knowing you still love them. It helps them understand they are harming themselves or someone else with their sin, and that is not what God wants for them. Punishment is often based on anger and wanting to inflict harm on the child (emotionally or physically) to stop their behavior. It starts with unloving control and often makes the child fearful instead of loved. Unfortunately, we see many families today that believe discipline is unloving. We are told that if we say ‘no’ to our kids or correct them they will have low self-esteem or won’t be able to make decisions on their own someday. Nothing could be further from the truth! Do you understand the importance of disciplining your children? Have you given up because it takes too much work and the fruit seems small? Do you expect your kids to obey without instructing them? There are dozens of verses we could examine to give us instruction on godly parenting, but the one that stands out to me in the midst of this undisciplined world is Proverbs 3:11-12 (also cited in Hebrews 12). It says, “My son [or daughter], do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son [daughter] whom he receives.” Then Heb. 12:11 continues, “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.” That’s what every mom wants in her home, peace and righteousness!
These verses force me to ask myself the question of how I respond to God’s discipline. Do I resist discipline, pain, the training of holiness in my heart? If so, I am resisting God’s love for me because he knows how to work toward deep heart change through trials. Is my example to my children “I’m not going to obey God, but you need to obey Him and me”? I believe one of the best things we can do in disciplining our children is to not only point out their sin, but to repent of our own sin regularly so they can experience Christ’s real forgiveness through our lives. I can easily get in the habit of correcting, which is vital in training them but forget to show them I need Jesus’ forgiveness just as much as they do. If we never repent in front of them, we are setting them up to think “I can do life on my own and eventually you can too.” This is the opposite of the Gospel: Christ HAD to suffer and die for all of our sins (past, present, future), and we truly can’t live without His love and forgiveness.
We need discipline and so do our kids in order to experience the “peaceful fruit of righteousness”. Are we trying to get peace in our home without faithful, prayerful discipline of ourselves and our kids? It’s impossible! I see the most fruit in my kids when God is working on my humility and he gives me the strength to be consistent with their correction. I also need to make sure they see the whole Gospel all the way through to forgiveness, not stopping with just showing them the sin. As we show them the peace that the repentance process brings they will not want to hide the sin from us and God. Teach them to run TO God the Father when they sin not away from Him. I urge you to think about how you deal with your own sin. Do you hide or belittle it? Do you choose blindness or avoidance of dealing with it? If we are willing to see the blessing of children, we will be willing to see our own sin through them. Be an example to them of how God has changed you…and how He can change them too! Satan wants to condemn us and Jesus wants to free us! Jesus was the only perfect child, so extend His grace to your own kids as they learn how much Jesus loves them as He corrects them.
As moms, we need to be filled up daily by God’s word and love so we can extend that to our kids. Some of my worst parenting days were when I was exhausted, not trusting or asking God to help me, and parenting out of my flesh (frustration, shame, guilt). The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) only comes from the Holy Spirit, and we need ALL of those to parent well. When my hands are busy or full, I often use my Bible app to read scripture to me. Even if I can think about one verse or section of scripture for the day, it helps me focus on Jesus and not myself. It reminds me to ask the Holy Spirit to extend the fruit of the Spirit when I am struggling.
Another part of the foundation for good parenting is praying without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). I’ve learned that if I’m constantly talking to the Father (requests, thanksgiving, sorrows) then I know He will guide my decisions with my kids. This might mean trading social media time for Bible time. Again I don’t do this perfectly by any means, but when I mess up, the Holy Spirit often prompts me to read the Bible, pray, and try again.
Pray: Lord I need help today. I need to know that you love me and are going to show me how to love and enjoy my kids. I ask that you show me what sin I need to confess so you can change me. I ask that you reveal any pain that needs to be healed. I ask that you give me patience as I train and love my kids. Please protect them and give me wisdom to point them to you. Help them love and serve you. Jesus please keep me going for the long haul! Thank you for blessing me with children and remind me they are a blessing. Thank you that you are faithful!
Journal: Don’t give up moms, God has you on this path and He is there whether it’s smooth or rocky. Encourage one another in the journey and ask God to guide your every step. Write out some goals you have for yourself for the rest of this year and pray for the strength and steps to accomplish them. If you are prone to only discipline but not enjoying your kids, then plan some times to have fun with your kids. Do what they enjoy and give them lots of encouragement. If you are prone not to discipline, then ask the Lord to show you ways you can train them consistently. Determine how to protect them from harm, to walk with Jesus, and to prepare them for this harsh world.