Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 12: Appeal to the Conscience

In the last few chapters, we've learned how communication and the rod (discipline) are the core tools to help reach a child's heart. However, what should "give biblical shape and structure to our parenting" are appealing to the conscience and correcting with a focus on redemption.

Children (with very few exceptions) have a conscience, a capacity to distinguish right from wrong. The rod can get their attention when they sin, but my children need me to instill the truth of God's way in them. Questions and stories, not mere preaching to them, are great tools to reach their hearts (see 2 Samuel 12 and Matthew 21 for biblical examples). What is needed is not mere correction and instruction; I need to get past surface issues (or, "Thorns," to use the language from "How People Change"), and to get to the core issues -- sinful hearts.

How do we keep a central focus on redemption? Children need to know that they are sinners and that God is merciful. It is only be these two truths being coupled and prominent that we are driven towards Christ. Discipline does not lead to the cross; it is a tool that can help us expose our child's incapability to live a life that is pleasing to God all on their own power. "Discipline leads to the cross of Christ where sinful people are forgiven. Sinners who come to Jesus in repentance and faith are empowered to live new lives."

Therefore, we must not focus on teaching children to merely obey the rules. I believe the chief purpose of the Old Testament law was to show people that they could not keep God's standard. Furthermore, the danger with children believing that they are doing good and keeping the rules well is that they tend towards self-righteousness and hypcrocisy. They have a hard time seeing that they need to trust in Christ.

Should we aim to raise "good kids," or young men and women who depend on Christ in every area of their lives? How are you working towards this goal? Do you ever find yourself basing your expectations of your child simply on your desires or what is easier for you now?

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