“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:11-13
“That’s how God chose to reveal to us the divine love, bring us back into an embrace of compassion, and convince us that anger has been melted away in endless mercy.” Henri Nouwen
- God is the perfect parent and because He loves us, He disciplines us. Before thinking about your role as a mom who disciplines her children, pause for a moment to think about your loving heavenly Father and your obedience to Him.
- Open your Bible and read Matthew 7:24-29. What do we know about why God requires complete obedience from us as His dear daughters?
Creating an Environment of Course Correction
Disciplining our children is probably one of the most time—and energy—intensive aspects of a mom’s daily life. Yet, how we discipline our children, and how that discipline reflects who God is, is supremely important. The answers to these questions make the role of parenting something we can’t take lightly!
The author of Hebrews explains how course correction works in Hebrews 12:11-13. There is a greater goal than stopping bad behavior. It is found in the last word of verse 13: healing. The end goal for parents is to conduct God’s discipline in such a way that our children experience healing from their sin. Few people will acknowledge feeling just as loved in their sin as they do in their success, but this is a biblical concept for those who are in Christ. Our standing with God is not shaken when we need correction; rather it is our heart that needs healing.
- Step One: Discipline Must be Painful
Hebrews 12 outlines a three-step process for course correction. In verse 11, it says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” True healing starts with pain. So the first step is to determine what “pain” is for each child because each child is wired differently. Pain for one child is different from pain for another. But, Proverbs 22:6 urges us to “train up a child in the way he should go.” As you take into account the personality and inner makeup of your child and how she responds to you and to circumstances, then you can identify what pain is for her. With God’s help, you can adopt a child-specific discipline model.
- Step Two: Build Them Up in Love
The second stage comes from verse 12: “Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Think about this for a minute. This is a word picture of arms and knees that have broken down. The parts of the body that allow us to move forward productively have gone limp. So, in course correction, immediately after we bring the pain, we also bring restitution to that child in love, in reassurance, and in encouragement. It’s important to note that the one who brings the pain must be the one who brings the love and encouragement. This takes effort and practice. We need to learn the art of speaking to our children and not at them. They also need affection. We can hug our children, touch their shoulders or their legs—something physical to tell them they are loved.
- Step Three: Make a Straight and Level Path
The third step in God’s plan for course correction is stated in Hebrews 12:13: “‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Making a level path for our children’s feet simply involves plotting out the new course for them. Here we teach them what it means to change and acknowledge that they will need God’s help to do this. Making a level path is telling them you have an idea of how they can navigate differently should the experience arise again, and then walking through those steps. This is where God can use our wisdom gained from having lived and made our own mistakes. We share ourselves with our children candidly.
Blessings and Love,
Dr. Michelle Anthony
Questions to Ponder
- Which of these three steps is most difficult? Why?
- Have you fallen into the trap of good cop/bad cop with your spouse, if you are married? If you are single, does the weariness cause you to become more strict or more lenient?
- In what ways do you want to discipline similarly or opposite to how you were disciplined as a child? Why?
Here are a couple of practical ideas that might help you to view course correction as a reflection of God’s love instead of something that is draining you each day:
- Seek a child-specific “pain” (write down for each child what is painful for him/her), practice building your child up in love and affirmation immediately after the pain so that they equate the two as going together, and don’t forget to give specific words of encouragement to set forth a straight path for her to walk in. Reward or recognize when this path is chosen.
- Play a “course correction” game with your young children where you give them two options of a path to take. You can place two divergent paths on the floor with colored paper or pillows. One path leads to peace and righteousness with God and the other path leads to pain and sadness. Give illustrations of situations where your children have a choice. Have them keep making good or bad choices until they reach the pain or the joy. Celebrate when they make good choices and talk through the ramifications of the poor choices.
- Read Matthew 7:24-29 and explain how the person who heard the words and obeyed was like the man who built his house on the rock and the one who heard the words and did not obey was like the man who built his house on the sand. Describe or show (object lesson style) how building on a rock is much better and safer than building on the sand.
Don’t give up. It’s a training process. Today as you listen to God about the issues deep in your children’s hearts, make yourself available to the wisdom in Hebrews 12:11-13.