These kids are not mine--well, biologically and socially, yes they are. But ultimately these three kids are God's--entrusted to me for this short season we call childhood. And my primary responsibility is to point their little, chunky faces to their heavenly daddy. It is not about me--it is all about Him. I do not want to make them to be "independent thinkers." I hope to lead them from dependence upon me and their dad, to dependence upon this God who redeems.
Thinking in this way changes my view on discipline. First, it enables me to be more patient--just like when you are babysitting another's child. You know what I mean--you can more easily use the happy-voice with a kid that is not your own. I want to be diligent to remember, especially when my patience is being tried, that these kid's are not my own--they are God's.
Second, it challenges me to reflect the heart of God when my children disobey. I have these moments--hours--where I feel like I am walking around just looking for rebellion--ready to pounce with a consequence. I do not like these times--they do not reflect God's heart towards me, His own child. God wants us to obey simply because He loves us with an abounding love. He knows what is best for us because He is our Creator. That is the attitude I want to reflect--discipline motivated by love.
Third, remembering that they are not my own propels me to give consequences the way God gives consequences. There is grace--praise God! But the Bible teaches that God does discipline His own--sometimes even displaying righteous anger over the sin. When we disobey--stepping outside the "circle of safety" He has created--He faithfully brings us back. Depending on our resistance and level of stubbornness, there are times when His discipline really hurts. But He disciplines out of love and desires that His children walk in the abundant life He intends.
Likewise I want these kids to trust my own words. If I say to stop behavior-A, then I want to be quick to discipline continued behavior-A. Why? Because if I said it then it is out of love for them and their safety that I desire them to stop behavior-A. If I neglect to follow through then I am teaching them that my instructions do not always matter--and in turn that God's instructions do not always matter.
I fail constantly. We are all on this road of learning. But God promises to give wisdom and power. Our faithfulness does please Him, but not because He is on an ego-trip. When we faithfully obey then we will experience the life He created--full of peace, joy, and love. Our kids will mess up continually--some days it feels like that is all they do. But if we could come to see these as opportunities to reflect the heart of God then maybe we wouldn't take it so personally. Believe me, I am preaching to myself.
What do I want for my kids? What is my goal? That they would love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that they would love others as themselves. Is this the attitude I reflect? Something to ponder.