From Discipline to Discipleship

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It never feels good when we have to discipline our children. The key is turning the discipline to discipleship.

I sat at my desk, pouring through emails about soccer, school, classes and business.  Lessons needed planning and tests grading.  The stack of bills needing attention leaned precariously towards the edge of my desk, threatening to throw themselves overboard.  Spread too thin, I struggled to mentally organize and prioritize my many responsibilities.

My time, so limited, pressed into me like a weight too heavy to shift.

My chest tightened when I heard the rumblings drawing closer to my home office, “Liiiii-deeee-yaaaaa! I’m telling mom!”  Enter my two youngest daughters, eyes full with hot tears and angry, red cheeks looking for justice to be served.

Does this sound like a recipe for disaster to you?  In days not so long passed, it would have been in my house.

From Discipline to Discipleship

Perspective is Everything

As busy, competent wives, mothers and homemakers, we plow through our days checking things off of our lengthy to-do lists in an effort to ‘get it all done’ as if that is our end goal in life.  People marvel at how together we are – and we like that.  However, there is this tendency to put our children and their needs on the list, so-to-speak.

Oh, yes, organization is good.  Morning routines, school time, chores, play time – we have it all planned out.

However, when we cling too tightly to that schedule, one too many unplanned ‘interruptions’, like the one mentioned above, can send us super moms into a tail spin.  And like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, one little quarrel can push us to screaming and shouting; and the children, hearts hurt, running for cover.

What are They Learning?

Think about what lesson this kind of interaction teaches.

  • We can’t rely on mom to help us.
  • It must actually be okay to shout if you are stressed out.
  • Pride rules the day or whoever shouts the loudest wins

Now, think about what lessons that kind of interaction doesn’t teach.

  • Self-denial
  • Esteeming others higher than yourself

Once I began to look at my children’s discipline issues as opportunities for discipleship rather than interruptions to my plan, my attitude was quickly adjusted.  Of course, watching them model my embarrassingly poor behavior helped as well!  Teaching Christian values and character should be a top priority for us as moms.

How to Teach Christian Character:

1. Read a Proverb a day.  What better place to gain wisdom for daily living than the book of Proverbs – known for it’s instruction in all things wise.  Teaching Christian character requires that we know what the Bible actually says.

2. Memorize Scripture.  When you find a verse that speaks to a particular character issue your family needs to grow in, write it down and read it through together at meal times.  Memorizing verses as a family teaches kids that we all need to hide God’s Word in our hearts and that we all need to grow in our Christian character.

3. Model Godly Behavior.  Have you heard the saying, “More is caught than taught.”?  As you apply principles of wisdom in your own life, your kids are watching you.  When conflicts arise, remind them of verses that relate to the issue at hand.  When you blow it and react in the flesh {we all do} be quick to apologize and move on – just as Christ does with us!

Resources for Teaching Godly Character

For Instruction in Righteousness 
Hundreds of Bible verses organized according to 52 common types of misbehavior along with numerous, creative and helpful parenting ideas and suggestions.  My personal favorite!

Parenting With Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments
Parenting with Scripture is an easy-to-use topical resource for parents who want to make the most of teachable moments with their children. It is a guide to help you train your children in how to think and apply God’s Word in the day-to-day.

Don’t Make me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
Ginger teaches in an easy to understand, non-judging way the practical application of Scripture.   Includes a list of Scriptures to use in common areas of struggle.  An excellent resource for training our children in the way they should go.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Full of wise and biblical approaches to raising godly children.

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus  by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
A powerful encouragement that no one can be ‘good enough’ without the amazing grace of God.  Raising Godly children does not solely depend on our instruction, it depends largely on them developing a personal relationship with our gracious God.

Are you feeling overwhelmed, dear mama?  Remember that just as our struggles bring us closer to God, so can those of our children.  With God’s Word and by His grace we can take our families from conflict to character – from discipline to discipleship.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;  but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Proverbs 1:7

Marianne Sunderland is a homeschooling mother of 8 lively and adventurous children – 4 boys and 4 girls. Married for more than 20 years, she attributes all of her worldly ‘successes’ to an ever-deepening walk with God. Her heart’s desire is to encourage other wives and mothers and attempts to do so at her blog, Abundant Life.

More to Consider…

Discipling our children in prayer is one of the most important things we can do as parents. Come see why.

Learning to Speak Life: Fruit of the Spirit

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  1. Definitely true. I know that I’m guilty of being the overworked, overwhelmed Mom, who sometimes reacts wrongly. It’s a blessing to be reminded of God’s plan for us, as we disciple our children. Thanks for sharing.

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