Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
I was really encouraged listening to last week’s Willow Creek Community Church sermon. They are beginning a new series entitled The Family Series, and it is exactly what I need right now.
Our almost four year old son has entered the phase of outright stubborness and defiance. He questions EVERYTHING we ask or tell him, and has recently taken up temper tantrums and becoming a tad bit aggressive with his anger.
Mike and I have been caught off guard, to say the least. We naively assumed that our sweet, angelic little boy would stay that way forever. Sure, we sin and are subject to depravity, but that cute little bundle that we brought home from the hospital a few years ago surely couldn’t be in the same boat!
Now we are caught in the tension of wanting to be authoritative parents, but not authoritarians. We want our parenting to be grace-based, but not wishy washy and allowing of too much. And of course, when we discipline and our son gives us one of those puppy dog, “why are you being so mean to me?” looks, we feel like the most cruel, heartless people ever, even when we know we were clearly in the right.
Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow, reflected on the changes that parenting has exhibited over his lifetime. He remembers his father being reserved in giving out “I love you’s” but being very intentional in disciplining his children and crafting them into responsible, respectful adults. In contrast, Hybels notes that today’s parents have swung to the opposite extreme, and are much more likely to lasvish love and affection on their kids without administering the limits and discipline that are needed and craved by them. He points out that character talks, setting up limits, and enforcing consequences are not standard procedure these days, and good intentioned parents believe that if they just LOVE their kids enough, they won’t have to deal with the dirty, unpleasant side of raising children that includes discipline.
Foolishness is bound up in the hearts of children, and it is our job to discipline them in order to “chase it out”. Again, as Hybels pointed out, just showering our chldren with love and affection won’t get the job done because our children, just like us, are subject to depravity. Their natural instincts are to do wrong.
Being reminded of this verse was huge for me. It gave me more resolve again to finish what I have started, and not to just back down and say “I’m tired of arguing with this child”, “I’m tired of repeating myself again and again and again”, “I”m tired of seeing really slow results”, etc. It’s going to take some work to raise our kids the way God expects us to. After all, their hearts are “bound” in foolishness, not merely draped or glossed over. I must be firm and determined to chase it out, doing my part to present them to Jesus in the manner that He has called me to.
Now, this isn’t all to say that we shouldn’t lavish love and affection on our kids. I actually don’t know how parents could NOT do this…even when I’m terribly frustrated with my children I still think they were the greatest idea ever. But, I am reminded, and encouraged, that when I take the time to consistently discipline my kids, I am truly loving them and giving them a better start in life.
If you’re interested in hearing Hybel’s sermon at Willow Creek, click here .