Let’s See the Feet

Ok, I came back – does this mean I’m not a total dolt?  I refuse to answer that on the grounds that it would incriminate me. If you are reading this and you have not read, in order, A Sure Sherpa? and Headline: Crippled Woman Climbs Mountain, please go back and read those first. 

There are those who have gone before me, whose shoulders I stand on – please understand that anything I share in this discussion comes from God’s grace manifest in my life through: Benny & Sheree’s book, “Raising Kids Who Hunger for God”; Lou Priolo’s book, “teach them diligently”; “Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in  you and your kids!” by Turansky and Miller and “Heartfelt Discipline” by Clay Clarkson.  Do not think, for one hairbreadth of a second that I think we have arrived in our parenting.  We seek to mature and grow in this area of our spiritual walk, as much (more??) than any other.  I would say that this arena is the one in which we end up confronting one another’s sin more than any other. (sigh – with all the good teaching under our belt, you’d think that wouldn’t need to be the case.)

Do you recall a few weeks ago, our dear friend Tom Harmon was in the area preaching?  Do you remember what he said about training our children?  It impressed me so much because it put “feet” to what the Lord had been teaching us over the past few years.  From 2 – 6 we teach our children to obey us.  From 6 – 12, we teach them to honor us and from 12 on up we teach them to love.  Isn’t this fascinating?  The two Scriptures given specifically to children are “Children obey your parents in the Lord” and “Honor your father and mother.”  That’s it.  From there they fall into the adult directives, which Christ condensed into “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Tom took all that information and packed it into three simple sentences.  See why we love this man?!!  (It has nothing, of course, to do with his complete and total passion for the things of God.)

You see, as we were beginning to parent, we found a lot of great counsel, but little of it had “feet” put to it.  You’ll find I’m a great one for wanting it made real or practical…something I can take and put into real life.  Theory is great, but give it feet and I’ll be much better able to own it.

The first question we need to address is WHY are we teaching our children to obey?  If we have a vision for the why of it, the implementation of it is easier.  Are we teaching our children to obey so that they may look good? so they can make us look good?  so we can stand being around them or do we have a future vision of the men and women of God that we are training up?  Our relationship with Father is only based on our hearts – not our performance.  That is how it should be with our kiddos too.  Our children need to be aware of our love for them, regardless of how awful they might behave. 

You asked, tl, how we teach and win them without obedience based in fear.  I think that depends on fear of what?  Fear of our rejecting them due to their disobedience?  Fear of God’s displeasure?  Fear of a spanking (or other form of discipline)?  I have to confess, I’ve been chewing on this one – and I don’t have any good answers.

My initial thought is, I grew up with no fear of God.  NO fear of God.  I knew He could refuse to let me into heaven and that scared me, but mostly the only fear I had was of Satan. This has led to a lifetime of wrestling with fear, as my fear was misplaced.  I saw God as being the “good Guy” while Satan was the “bad guy” – they were equals in a war for my soul – for the earth.  What HOOEY!  They are no more equal than I am to an ant.  Father is SO great and SO mighty and SO Holy that Satan can’t even touch one of God’s children, without first getting His permission.  I DO NOT WANT MY CHILDREN TO GROW UP UNAFRAID OF GOD.

This does not mean that I want them to run from Him in fear, but I do not want them to be casual and flip in their response to Him either. I want them to see Him as a Holy God – One who, without the incredible gift of Jesus Christ is so unapproachable that people died for coming into His presence.  BUT because of the Cross, they are able to call Him Abba Father – to run to Him, to cling to His neck, to jump on His back at the end of the day….  When we see God as He is, as WHO He is, then our amazement that He would choose us, that He would love us, that He would rescue us, that He would move on our behalf…how could we not love and worship a God who does this when He wouldn’t need to do more than step on us as He walks over us?

So, in answer to your question, in my mind, I don’t see it being a problem if during the stage of training them to obey, they have a fear of discipline.  (I think that fear of discipline is perhaps the first growth pangs of learning self control.)  I am not talking of being afraid of our displeasure – of our rejection – of our being out of control as we discipline them.  I’m talking of training them early to fear a Holy yet LOVING God.  (And I want to add – their desire to please Daddy and Mommy will be another motivator!!)

Ladies, this is once again HUGE.  I’m so sorry.  I did mention that I questioned whether or not I was the one to address these questions.  Now you have a better understanding of why I question that.  Is any of this remotely helpful or just stuff you all know already?  I shall end here until I make certain that I am serving you, rather than just yammering at you.  There is more than enough yammering noises in our lives, you don’t need me being another.
(If as you read, you find something that does not match up with Scripture – please address it with me.  I long to grow in my understanding of the Word and how to live it out.)

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Comments
4 Responses to “Let’s See the Feet”
  1. javadawn says:

    My own problems come when my daughter mistakes the lesson, which means that I must not be communicating well enough on her level. Many times I have tried to stress to her how much I love her and WHY an action of discipline was needed (safety, mostly). And yet, she still takes everything as a personal affront, as though I do not like the person that she is. It’s just so heartbreaking, and so very incorrect.

    Posted 8/17/2006 at 11:29 AM by theproletarian

  2. javadawn says:

    Dawn… As one standing at the foot of this mountain, please know it is helpful to hear not only where you’ve found the path, but how you went about seeking it. Your honesty and willingness to share the journey is the gift. I find no yammering here. Thanks.
    Posted 8/17/2006 at 1:14 PM by aprilmcstew

  3. javadawn says:

    That makes sense to me Dawn….I mean we obey God because we love Him and want to please Him, absolutely, and I think that is somethign we want to instill in our children- obedience due to a love and a desire for sweet and unhindered fellowship with us, but we also obey God I think because we fear Him and His awfullness (in the old sense of that word). We obey the government also because God told us too and because we desire a well ordered society, but also because they have the power to seek correction (and often unpleasant) if we don’t. It doesn’t negate the goodness of our obedience to God because we fear His ability to destroy the body and soul in Hell. So yes, it seems the fear of discipline is a valid and good way for obedience to come about.

    Dawn, thank you for shedding light on that for me!

    I think you are so right that the why of why we discipline is so important. It can be too easy to set rules and correction based on our convenience, and even rules which could be good with the right attitude behind them can be distorted with the wrong motivation.

    Just keeping that in mind over the past few weeks has cleared up much of my interection and reaction to my daughter for me. If can evaluate a situation based on the why, and not just the outward result. I’m starting to better learn about what her temptations are and how to help her overcome those. And I’m seeing a little girl with a sweet spirit and personality that I can’t wait to get ot know better. It is an amazing process.

    Posted 8/17/2006 at 3:11 PM by tlnicholas

  4. javadawn says:

    Jenna, sometimes, with some children, we simply need to pray for a better way of communicating. I know I have one child in particular that I simply struggle and struggle to communicate with. Maybe you haven’t noticed but I have a bit of a strong personality. (Had you noticed that? I didn’t think so.) She prefers to operate from a position of weakness – it is something that I have to guard against responding to wrongly. (AND it may just be a season for her and she will come to understand it soon.)

    April, you honor me with your words. My path was not the easiest (nor probably the wisest one – likely I was a stiff necked Child that had to wander in the desert with sand between my teeth for a while before entering the Promised Land.) 🙂 but I sure do enjoy this new land of milk and honey.

    Tiffany, it was truly a revolutionary day when I realized my place was between my child and their sin. It was something I had never been taught in all my parenting! It was truly, truly a totally new concept to me. And you’re right – it IS an amazing process!!

    Well, dear ladies, I’m going to crawl into bed. (Had a REALLY weird thing happen early this morning – long story will tell you when I don’t have sand paper for eyelids. LOL) Goodnight!!
    Posted 8/17/2006 at 9:36 PM by javadawn –

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