Children Don’t Need School (4)

Part of Job’s testing was the loss of all his children (Job 1:18-19), as well as the loss of his material wealth (1:14-17). His blessings consisted of the restoration of his wealth beyond what he had possessed before (42:12), as well as the birth of 10 children (42:13). As a final gift, he was granted long life (42:16-17). In short, he was given the capital he needed to begin once again to exercise dominion over the earth as a godly family man: tools, children, and time.[1]

The godly person values and loves his children, but he doesn’t idolize them, or deny them the necessary pains of life. They are like him: subject to the many temptations of life, and needing the grace of God. They are to be disciplined, as unto the Lord, and this is initially a father’s responsibility.

Denying them the discipline of the Lord is actually neglectful, and a form of abuse. It seems that David was guilty of this, in the case of Adonijah. The scripture says of him, that

His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, ‘Why have you done so?’ (I Kings 1:6)

It seems that he’d gotten to adulthood and never had his will crossed, his bottom smacked for disobedience. When David was old, this lack of discipline in Adonijah became evident: he wanted to be king!

The first chapter of I Kings puts all this on the table. The second chapter tells us the unfortunate consequences for that young man, when his half-brother Solomon (now the king), had him executed for what he considered was a conspiracy against him.

Adonijah, when at the feet of his parents as a child, had never learned when to stop, so he found out as an adult, the hard way.

                        Adonijah wasn’t submissive,

                        Adonijah was ambitious,

                        Adonijah couldn’t wait, and

                        Adonijah died violently (I Kings 2:19-25).

All of this was tragic and could have been avoided, if David had disciplined him as a child. This shows us that:

                        Life is not about what a child wants.

                        Life is not about what a parent wants.

                        Life wasn’t about what a disciple wanted (Mat.16:21-28).

                        Life wasn’t even about what Jesus wanted (Mat.26:39).

                        Life is about doing what God wants (Ps.40:8).

The Bible does command us:

Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you discipline him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol (Prov.23:13-14).

How do we do this?

Understand what the Bible says about rebellion and disobedience (I Sam.15:22-23). That is the critical issue. The Christian parent in obedience to God, wants something more than outwardly nice children. What they seem to perform like is irrelevant. What’s in their heart will be reflected in what they say and do.

Rebellion has been in every man since Adam. Don’t ignore it, or deal with it half-heartedly.

                        The goal of discipline?

                  The child learns to listen (Ps.81:11-14).

                  The child learns to obey.

                  The child learns self-discipline.

If a child learns to listen, honour and obey your voice, he’ll probably do the same to Jesus Christ’s Word. That’s the goal of the exercise. You will have served him (and the Lord) well. In the course of my work, my wife and I have visited hundreds of homes, and we could tell within 10 minutes whether the children were disciplined or not!

Parents shouldn’t have to repeat themselves, when instructions are given. Also, avoid raising a voice with a child. Otherwise, you are training a child to only respond to you when you shout.

If a little child cries or complains after given an instruction, he is making a rebellious statement: “I don’t like this, and I’m telling you, and everybody.”  That is rebellion, even if he outwardly does as he is told.

If a child shows the least displeasure in response to a command or duty, it should be addressed as disobedience. If a child sticks out his lip, you should focus your training on his bad attitude.[2]  

The goal is that a child learns to “…do all things without grumbling or complaining” (Phil.2:14). A person’s mouth tends to reveal what’s in his heart. If he grumbles and complains at your instructions, he will grumble and complain at God’s.

                          When Administering Corporal Punishment

a) Make sure it’s private.

b) Make sure you’re calm.

c) Make sure the child understands why he is being punished.

Children, when they know they are about to be punished, may put on a tantrum, or suddenly shed lots of tears (ostensibly of remorse), or scream, or say, “It’s not fair!” or I hate you!” These and many others are manipulative tools, which a naive parent can be shocked, tricked or intimidated by. Tears may seem to be ones of penitence; they are probably ones of regret that he’s been caught, and to supposedly imply that he’s sorry.

Why is he“sorry?” Because he’s getting a smack, and is hoping to come up with a good religious formula that might get him out of trouble, right now.                                                                                          

He knows he’s done wrong. He knows you are planning to punish him. He thinks,

I’ll put on a theatrical scene, to try and bluff my way out of this.

Any rebellious behaviour, initiated to avoid punishment, should receive a quiet warning: “If you don’t obey, I’ll give you an extra smack.”  

A spanking is made effective, not by its severity, but by its certainty…your calm dignity will set the stage to make it more effective.[3]

d) Instruct the child calmy,  to bend over and hold onto his ankles.

e) Administer the punishment: as they get older, make it more strokes, or harder, or both. “Select your instrument according to the child’s size.”[4]

f) Give him some time (perhaps 30 seconds), to stop crying. Don’t let rebellion or anger come into any part of this.

g) Instruct him to hug you (this is a command, not an option), and say “Thanks Dad, I needed that,”and then to confess his sin to God, and ask for His forgiveness.

h) Instruct him to ask you to forgive him. He has offended God, but he has also offended you.

i) Hug him and pray for him, and tell him you love him.

Discipline is the forerunner of discipleship. Ultimately, he should be self-disciplined.

Conclusion:

Children need the discipline of the Lord from their parents, firstly from their father. It’s his task to lead in this. A parent is unloving to deny them this, and disciplining them is a matter of faithfulness to God, Who calls them to His service, not merely to the service of men.

We actually prepare them to serve God as we discipline them, for their rebellion needs to be confronted, head on.

And His promise is,

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him (Prov.22:15).


[1]Gary North, “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.164.

[2] Michael and Debi Pearl, “Train up a Child,” 1996, p.83.

[3] ibid., p.46.

[4] ibid., p.47.

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