Training or Spite

Parents are instructed by God to “train” their children. The whole process of child discipline is the same process as child training. Discipline and training are so intertwined that you cannot have one without the other.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Getting in Your Own Way

Some parental discipline is hardly training, but much more like anger, frustration and even spite toward the child. What is happening is that parents are getting in their own way. Instead of training their child the parent’s feelings and frustrations become more important than the good of the child. That’s when parents move from Training their child to Penalising the child for annoying the parent.

Here are some tell-tale statements from parents that let you know the parent is not thinking about “training” the child, but venting their own frustrations…….

“Get out of here. You make me sick.” “I’m sick of hearing your whining voice.” “I’ve had just about enough of you for one day.” “One more noise out of you and I’ll let you have it.” “Make yourself scarce!” “You just SO annoy me!” “Get to your room. I don’t want to see you.” “Get out of my way.” “I ought to give you a whipping.” “I’m going to feel so much better when I’ve given you a thrashing.” “You’ve pushed me too far this time!”

Train the Child

Godly discipline is for the good of the child. It is not to make the parent feel better. When parents deal with their child based on what will placate the parent’s upset state, those parents are not training their child, but taking out their frustrations on the child.

So let’s remind ourselves that Biblical discipline has the good of the child in mind at all times. The Rod and Reproof give wisdom. The Rod of Correction drives foolishness from the child’s heart. That’s why godly discipline, including smacking a child with a rod, is an expression of love to the child. Those who will not smack their child with a rod are described in the Bible as hating their child.

Godly discipline gives wisdom, removes foolishness and affirms the parent’s love to the child. It is all for the good of the child.

Correction not Anger

The Rod of Correction is not the Rod of Anger. The two are completely opposed. The rod of Correction drives foolishness from the child, but the rod of Anger simply does not work.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

“He that sows iniquity will reap vanity: and the rod of his anger will fail.” Proverbs 22:8

The Rod of Correction is for the Good of the Child, which trains the child’s heart and directs the child’s life. The Rod of Anger is used by parents for the good of the parent, venting anger, frustration, resentment and spite.

Spite

I have seen parents act in cruel spite toward their children. Such parents usually choose to banish their child, rather than smack the child. They also speak horrible words of rejection and cursing over the child. They make threats, lash out, bring fear into the heart of the child and leave emotional scars.

A planned discipline regime, using the rod of correction, where you smack the child, give explanation and give plenty of affirmation, is much better than the banishment which some parents think is more humane. Children feel secure when they know the parents will not lash out or respond in anger. They also feel loved when they are not rejected and sent away.

I encourage all parents to look to the Biblical pattern of child training and to clear their own hearts of things that lead to anger and spite.

Missing Ingredients

Effective Parenting requires that you use the right ingredients. If something is missing then the recipe will not turn out right. Many parents lament they have not been as effective as they hoped and wanted to be. If you are in that category I trust this look at the Missing Ingredients proves helpful.

No Water

Some years ago we bought a bread-maker and made many successful loaves. We finally gave up, probably because the yummy bread was eaten in no time and bread making became a bit of a burden.

One memorable loaf which we baked overnight really disappointed us in the morning. The aroma of the hot grain could be smelled as usual, but when we opened the machine and looked inside there was simply a pile of dry ingredients in the base of the tin.

We forgot to add water. So the machine went through the whole process of mixing and heating and so on, but to no avail. A vital ingredient was missing and the machine just could not produce the usual delicious loaf.

We never forgot the water again.

Incomplete Recipe

temper-tantrum

In the same way parents can leave out something very important to the life of their child. If they do then some or all of the effort they put in will be wasted. If the recipe is incomplete then what is created won’t be what is expected.

That’s how many parents find it. What they get from their child is different to what they expected. So this lesson points you to two Biblical ingredients which every parent needs to put into the life of their child.

Rod and Reproof

People have different opinions about discipline and child training. Some are brainwashed to be negative about any form of punishment. Others believe if you spare the rod you spoil the child. Some believe that by being kind and patient the youngster will turn out right in the end.

Whatever your preferred ideas I want you to be Biblical first of all. Man’s ideas seem right but lead to destruction. We must put our own ideas aside and pay close attention to what the Bible teaches, since it is God’s Word to us.

So notice the Bible’s joint emphasis on two key ingredients: rod and reproof.

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15

Give Attention

discipline

Before we look at “rod and reproof” please notice that they both represent giving special attention to the child. The opposite of those things is to have a child who is “left to himself”.

So it is important for parents, both dad and mum, to share life with the child and to give the child attention. If the child is left to himself or herself and allowed to do as he or she pleases without guidance and correction, the result will be shameful.

Children are not designed to find their own way and to determine what is right or best for them. They are designed to be guided, corrected, brought to account, instructed and led into the right things. That’s the role of parents.

So please give good, Biblical attention to your child, and especially give them both the rod and reproof.

The Rod

The Bible teaches that children are blessed when they are punished for their wrong behaviour. Godly punishment involves physical pain, such as a smack on the bottom. It teaches the child but it also enables the child to feel whole and resolved on the inside.

By being punished when they know they have done wrong a child achieves the lovely sense of being made right. They feel absolved and don’t live with unresolved guilt or fear of being found out.

Parents know that effective physical punishment administered appropriately leaves children happy and feeling clean on the inside.

Therefore the use of physical punishment is for the good of the child. If a parent smacks their child out of anger or to vent the parent’s frustration then the action ceases to be godly discipline and becomes self-serving and abusive.

Reproof

The Rod does not work so well on its own. The Bible tells us that the Rod and Reproof work in tandem to create wisdom in a child.

Reproof involves speaking to the child and speaking into the child’s life. It involves explanation, instruction, correction, godly counsel, affirmation and direction for future behaviour.

When reproof is employed along with use of the rod the results are far better than if either one is used on its own.

Words of Reproof

To help those who may not find the right words easily, here is an example of a reproof that could be given to a naughty child.

“You know what you did is wrong, don’t you? You disobeyed mummy and that’s a bad thing to do. God wants you to always do what mummy tells you to do. Now, you are a very special good boy that God gave to us so we can train you to be a mighty man for God. That’s why it is so important that we smack you when you do wrong things, so you will learn to do what God wants and you’ll become the man that God wants you to be.”

“Now I’m going to give you one smack for saying ‘No’ to mummy. Then you are going to ask mummy to forgive you and I’ll lead you in a prayer to ask God to forgive you too. And if you say ‘No’ to mummy again, I’ll have to give you two smacks, because one wasn’t enough to help you learn to do the right thing. Do you want me to give you two smacks? I didn’t think so. So, all you have to do is make sure you don’t say ‘No’ to mummy again and do just what she tells you do.”

Ingredients

spoiled-girl

Effective parents know that they have to deal with things as they come up. They can’t neglect the child’s training. They also know the child needs their love and affirmation and that firm discipline is an expression of love to the child. They also know a child is unsettled and agitated if they cannot resolve wrongs in their heart. Godly discipline clears away the messy feelings they carry around with them when they have done wrong.

Clear explanation, loving affirmation and practical engagement in the right behaviours, such as saying “Sorry”, lead the child to put godly character and good behaviour into their lives.

Being clear about the punishment, why it is given and how it will be increased in the future if correct behaviour is not evident, helps the child feel secure and clear about what to expect.

I hope that helps you refine something of what you do to bless your children.

Pilgrim Pleasure 1

Follow Pilgrim in his discovery of forbidden pleasure. And just maybe you will see something of your own journey over the years. For, as we shall see, pleasure has a power of its own that Pilgrims should treat with care……

Pilgrim paused at the junction and considered what lay before him. His “Do Right” trail had thrown up many hurdles, yet he always found sufficient resolve to cross them all.

The trail stretched before him, austere and narrow, straight toward dark, thankless mountains. Foreboding echoed from every crag. It was a Pilgrim’s lot to scale such heights and grow by doing so. Pilgrim’s shoulders slumped at the thought of what awaited him ahead.

pilgrims progress

To the left, down a short path spread a lush and leafy pasture, where the sun shed mottled patches through leafy trees. The path was marked, “Please Yourself”, and pleaded to his weary senses.

The Path to Pleasure

“I was warned of such a path”, he spoke to himself. Yet he paused and longed for the relief so near.

Even though Pilgrim kept away from self-indulgence he had enjoyed life so far. Overcoming a daunting obstacle, bringing joy to others, helping his friends and doing right all brought a reward that nourished him.

But at times he just longed for the freedom to do as he pleased. And now, as he thought, the meadow was so close. “Surely I could suffer no harm to pause for a moment.” Without further word he eased his load from aching shoulders and moved tentatively toward the inviting pasture.

Falling into the soft grass brought celebration to his senses. Muscles rested as a smile came to his lips. Surely this could not be bad, since the Lord Himself commended rest.

Breezes swept sweet scents to his nostrils and birds chirped happy music to his ears.

Sleep came readily in the sweet comforts of the meadow.

Call to Return

He woke to the cries of a friend. A companion he oft walked with called him back to the trail. “You are not to go to such a place.”

“It’s fine. I suffer no harm. Come, see for yourself.”

The companion stood firm, so the pilgrim rolled in the grass to show how harmless the meadow was. “Come. See for yourself!” As the companion remained resolute the pilgrim laughed at him.

“This is great fun. And it makes me feel so good.”

“But you are not supposed to be there. Now hurry up and get back on track. Others are coming and they will see you.”

With that the pilgrim returned to the “Do Right” trail, looking longingly back to the meadow.

Temptation

The “Please Yourself” path crossed the trail many times and each time it did the pilgrim was drawn to it. His companion did not notice the various delights laid up close to the trail, and did not seem to care even when they were pointed out. But the pilgrim felt a new ache for them.

His short pause in the pasture remained with him and pulled at him in ways he could not explain. If he had been alone he would gladly have sampled more of the treats he saw along the way.

Finally he discovered a case for venturing to the “Please Yourself” path again. Since that path kept intersecting with the “Do Right” trail, there was clearly no harm in taking it as an alternative route, at least for a good part of the journey. Since he had resolved to go the right way and “Do Right” there could be no harm if he were to enjoy himself while doing so.

When his companion needed rest, pilgrim decided to press ahead, hoping to find the pleasure path while alone and free to explore it without censure.

As You Please

When pilgrim came again to the “Please Yourself” path there was a man standing at the intersection. Pilgrim was eager to see what pleasures the path afforded, but held back, unsure of this new acquaintance.

“I see you like my path”, the stranger spoke.

“Is this path yours?” Pilgrim enquired.

“Yes. And it’s a fine path too.” The stranger watched Pilgrim’s eyes.

“Do you mind if I use your path?”

“Please yourself.” They both laughed at that witty answer.

“Well, should I go to the left or the right?” “As you please.” The stranger smiled.

“Can I stay close to the “Do Right” trail?” “If you wish.”

“Can I still be a pilgrim?” “If that’s what you wish.”

“Are there no rules, then?” “Yes. That you ‘Please Yourself’. There is nothing else you need worry about.”

Please Yourself

If life could be divided into two kingdoms they would have to be the Kingdom of “Do Right” and the Kingdom of “Please Yourself”. While enjoying life is by no means a bad thing, the issue is a matter of heart intention.

When you set out to do what is right your heart operates under a moral imperative, in the fear of God, recognising that you are not here for yourself, but to fulfil the purposes for which God, your Creator, placed you here. That becomes your joy, and joy is much richer than “pleasure”.

When you set out to please yourself your heart has chosen to elevate self above God. You love pleasure more than God (2Timothy 3:4). Moral responsibility takes second place and you see every situation, challenge and relationship as something to exploit for personal benefit.

Moral responsibility leads to self-sacrifice, self-discipline, character, inner strength, resolve, authority, moral might, leadership, ability to bless others, social fabric and security, and God’s grace on lives and communities.

Selfishness leads to irresponsibility, abuse of others, indulgence, moral weakness, exploitation, vulnerability, lack of care for others, and God’s wrath upon lives and communities.

Choose Your Way

We each choose our way. We either walk the way of life, or of death. Western culture advertises the merits of “Please Yourself” as if it is the only logical choice. We are told to “Just Do It!” and “If it feels good, Do It!” We are encouraged to have our way, do our own thing, and insist on our personally crafted notion of what is best for us.

God calls us to fear God, love Him, obey Him and glorify Him. As we do that we receive blessings that are beyond anything our natural senses can deliver.

I call you to choose “Life”! Choose the way of holiness in the fear of God. So you can truly enjoy the life in your hand.

The next lesson follows Pilgrim into his adventure, exploring the pleasures his heart craves.

Wonder Mum

Old Higgins watched with wonder. He had never seen a woman with such irrepressible zeal for her role. Here was a wonder mum indeed.

He watched as she intercepted the scuttling feet and caught her son into her arms, despite his protests and cries. “Look, you’re a bird! Look how you can fly!” She swung him to the left and right and chuckled as she did. He kicked and screamed and demanded the right to run, but she pulled him to her chest and pointed to the sheep on the hill. “Look at the sheep. How many sheep are there?”

While Higgins and others scanned the flock to make their estimate the boy would have none of it. He kicked his mother and pulled his arms free from her hold. “Let me go!” He demanded. “Would you like some food?” the wonder mum asked sweetly. “Let’s see what mummy has in her bag for you.” The boy settled and stood at her side as she opened her huge bag.

At The Station

“What an amazing woman”, each onlooker thought, as they waited for the train. This wonder mum had struggled with her implacable child for over twenty minutes, and just kept on being calm, enthusiastic and positive. Just about every other person would gladly have thrashed the boy, but the mother was determined to win him over with her winsome ways and her never-ending store of surprises and delights.

After just a bite or two the food was thrown to the ground and a loud complaint bellowed forth. “Oh dear”, thought the weary crowd. They had hoped for success this time. Higgins found his muscles tighten yet again at the pitch of the boy’s scream.

And so it continued another twenty minutes. Food, drink, games, distractions, tickles, toys, song and dance spun past in a constant stream of ineffectual efforts. The crowd was exhausted, but amazed to see the stamina of the wonder mum, who pressed on through it all.

When the train finally arrived everyone became distracted in the bustle for their allocated seats. Wonder mum found the energy to carry her problem child and her bags onto the carriage.

Higgins was relieved to find himself in a different car to the wonder mum. He wondered how he would have survived even being near the child for the day’s journey. He would tell his daughter all about this wonder mum, when he arrived for dinner.

The Exhausted Mum

He had just settled into his seat when, to his dismay, a woman and child arrived to sit opposite. Rage rose in his face and a scowl formed on his lips. This young lad was almost identical to the monster tormenting and exhausting the crowd for the past hour. Burying himself in his paper he silently resented the injustice of the seating.

The woman was too tired to give much attention to her boy. He asked her several questions and wanted various things to amuse him. But she could not muster the energy to attend to his requests. She simply told him to read his book and keep quiet.

As the hours passed Higgins saw the boy sit contented at his play as the tired mum dozed. When the lad had an issue his mother gave clear direction which he followed. She was too tired or sick to amuse him for a moment, yet he seemed perfectly willing to accept that limitation and face his day compliant to her demands.

In time Higgins chatted with the toddler and found him to be polite and respectful.

The Lucky Mum

This was indeed a lucky mum. She did not need to be a wonder mum, with such a compliant child.

When the woman revived she answered Higgins’ questions. No, her son was not born ‘good’. He had presented her with demands, tantrums and wilfulness, just as they both had seen in the other boy that morning. She had dealt with it firmly, despite his protests. She had disciplined him and trained him to obey her instructions, even when he did not want to. She punished him with sufficient severity to convince him that he was wisest to obey.

She had now trained him to be no difficulty to those around him and she could have peace and confidence despite being unwell or tired, for her son would not be a problem to himself or others. She had neither bag of tricks nor endless energy. She did not have the stamina of the wonder mum in the other carriage. And she did not believe a child should be allowed to disrupt life for others.

At the Destination

At their destination angry passengers escaped from one carriage after a tortuous day with the wonder mum and her rebellious son. As the crowd gathered to collect their bags the mother, still struggling with her wilful boy, smiled her apologies to people too upset to notice. Near her, the other mum had sufficient strength to collect her things and move quietly, with her son, to the exit.

Higgins observed both mums and looked on with pity as the long-suffering wonder mum struggled with her rebel and her bags.

Wonder Mum

That night Higgins told his daughter about an amazing mum he had seen that day. A woman who made a lasting impression on him and who he would like her to learn from and be like. He also told her about the foolish mum who tortured herself and everyone else by not disciplining her rebellious child.

Wasted Youth

Among the young men and young women I get to help from time to time I find that a common problem is the wasted life. It is easy for youth to think they have an abundance of time and opportunity stretching before them and that they can well afford to waste it.

Several young men have discussed with me their addiction to computer games. They know it isn’t good for them, but they find it hard to pull themselves away. This is a clear sign of much wasting of life in the future.

How to Harvest Youth

In an ideal situation there would be several ways in which a young person could harvest their potential and make the most of their youthfulness. What I am about to suggest here are not the final definitive observations, but some thoughts that will direct people in the right direction.

A key to harvesting youth is Protection of many things which children are born with, but which, once destroyed, cannot be replaced.

Another key is to develop the Potential which lies in each life. Talents, intelligence and time that can be well spent provide great potential to each young life. If that potential is developed there will be a great harvest in years to come.

Yet another key is found in Principles being built into the young life, to guide and guard the future years. Where people do not have guiding principles to refer to they become vulnerable to destructive influences and foolish choices.

The harvest from a youthful life is also enhanced by Persistence. The ability to persevere, persistently pushing past obstacles and staying the course in the face of temptations is of great value. As one entrepreneur once pointed out, those who start and project and succeed differ from others in only one main respect – they persistently persevered with their project, while others gave up. Persistence proves character and that kind of character will stand every life in good stead for the future.

How to Throw Youth Away

Maybe some people will better grasp the challenges of their youth by seeing how easy it is to throw their youth away.

Take, for example, the student who does not do his work and who barely scrapes through during the years of his education. Once he has reached his young adult years he will have little opportunity to invest himself in study compared to the years of his youth. Others, who have done the extra work, learned the extra languages or covered the extra subjects, will have great advantage in work, business, social and personal life.

The youth who gets drawn into a destructive and undisciplined life, connecting with others who are wasting their lives, will be drawn away from things that provide a hope for the future, such as education, skill development, trade skills, productivity, discipline, etc.

Time spent in front of the television, or chatting aimlessly with friends, or scouring the web for trivial amusements, will be time thrown away.

Audit the Harvest You Can Expect

Another way to look at harvesting youth is to check out the harvest that you can expect. God warns us not to be so stupid as to believe we will harvest anything other than what we planted. If you sow thorns then that is what is going to grow in your life.

The young people who invest themselves in the latest computer game and spend thousands of hours becoming the top player can expect a harvest. Five years later they will be the master of an obsolete game which no-one cares for any more. They will only have meaning in a small subculture of gamers who have chosen not to move on to the new generation of amusements.

If that same young person had invested the same amount of time and interest in mastering a musical instrument, or a foreign language, they will have a vastly different harvest five years later. The skills learned will still be with them and will enable them to keep moving ahead in that field.

So, have a look at the things that consume your life right now. Everything that has no future is going to leave you with a barren paddock. Everything that has a future value, progressing to something else or being a platform from which other things can be built, will provide you a fruitful field for good harvests in the future.

External Discipline

Young people recognise that they are unlikely to demand high levels of commitment and discipline from themselves. That is where good parenting proves very valuable. External discipline, guiding and demanding certain levels of performance and productivity help youth to take advantage of their opportunities.

Some tasks are unpleasant simply because they are new and hard to master. But once they have been mastered to some degree they become enjoyable and can be very rewarding. External discipline drags people to those tasks and forces them to persist, until the benefits are discovered and the harvest is in preparation.

When a child is left to himself he will waste his potential. He will not learn perseverance, and he will be unprotected. He will not learn the principles which can and will guide and guard him. King Solomon pointed out that when a child is left to himself he will bring shame to his parents.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15

Endangered Youth

The increased collapse of family life endangers youth. It robs many of the protection they need and it allows them to waste their potential, without principle or perseverance. Many more children are being ‘left to themselves’ these days, due to the absentee parents, either by family break-up or by both parents being pulled into the workforce.

Once a youth has grown up without good parenting their potential has mostly been lost, their character has not been formed, precious things in their life are likely destroyed and they are mostly without principle to guide and guard them. Sadly we have a generation of endangered youth forming around us right now.

What’s the Solution?

The first step toward a solution is the saving grace of Christ. When a person is born again they become a new creature. That newness is an invaluable asset in rescuing anyone’s life. People who have been drunkards, fighters, murderers and the like have been totally transformed and rescued from degradation through faith in Jesus Christ. So that salvation has to be the first and foundational aspect of a solution for youth.

The next step is resolve. If external discipline is not being provided by godly parents, then each youth must determine to press ahead with godly disciplines in their life. Making themselves accountable to others is a very helpful tool in this process. Parents and guardians must resolve to assist the youth to gain personal disciplines and to have a productive routine that builds their potential and plants good seed for a good harvest in the future.

Add to that wisdom. Godly wisdom enables us to manage the ebb and flow of motivation, opportunity, responsibility, and so on. Crushing burdens normally crush people. Too little discipline weakens people’s muscle for the tasks. Keeping a balance requires wisdom and divinely inspired leadership.

Look for God’s grace. When we abandon ourselves on God we can call out to Him for gracious assistance, wisdom, opportunity and so on, which would otherwise be outside our experience.

Then There’s the Military

It has been noted that some young man who have become wayward and undisciplined find themselves drawn to the military. It is as if something inside them recognises their need for strong leadership and they find that in the challenges of a disciplined military life.

It was anecdotally acknowledged during the Vietnam war that many aimless and wasted young men were able to harness their life and their potential through being called up into the army and going through the rigours of military discipline.

While I don’t suggest that all undisciplined youth go into the military it is worth noting that the more extreme forms of discipline and personal demand embodied in boot camp and military training have proven effective for others.

A Prayer For Youth

Parents Can Pray: “Lord God, I give to you my undisciplined child. I repent before you of failing my child, by not providing them the godly discipline which You want in their life. Lord, forgive me. And now I ask You to take possession of my child and to deliver them from evil, rescuing them from their own wasted life and bringing into their life the richness of Your undeserved grace. Lord, deliver and heal my child and use him (or her) for Your glory and in Your service. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

Youth Can Pray: “Lord God, I have already wasted much of my life and I repent before You of destroying the life which You gave me. I forgive all those who have let me down and I take responsibility for who I am and where I am going. Lord, rescue me from everything that traps me. Lift me up and put my feet on solid ground. Grab hold of me and teach me how to love and serve You with all my might. I give myself to You and I allow You to discipline me so I become the person You created me to be. I do this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”