The wind mocked the tears as they streaked painfully across my face. I was barely 21 that day, but the reality of my adult-ness was stark. I had my own apartment, my own car, and my very own bills to go along with them.
And I was horribly alone. Everything I had ever wanted had just been ripped into shreds with broken marriage vows and empty promises. With him, he took everything of value. Every ounce of security, every hope of being loved, and every prayer of living the American dream.
He left brokenness, despair, fear, and a huge hatred of God.
You see, to me, God had a bunch of rules that I needed to follow to get his subsequent blessings. I had followed the rules. I married a Christian whose parents were on the board of their church. He was even attending seminary. I had gotten straight A’s in school, never drank or smoked. I stayed out of trouble and followed everyone’s rules. But following the rules didn’t bring forth that well of blessing. Instead, I sat in a heap of despair, rejected and abandoned.
I didn’t run to God for help, comfort, or answers. I ran away. Far away. It seemed that God had no interest in protecting me. I was sure of one thing—> my best wasn’t good enough to get His approval and I wanted no part of this kind of Christian life. I kept that promise. For nearly 5 years, church was the last place you would find me. I didn’t pray or read my Bible. Honestly, I didn’t even care what God thought.
Fortunately, He cared what I thought and eventually I did turn my life over to Him–completely. It’s a great story, but there is something about all of this that I don’t want you to miss. Oh, sweet Christian parent, we have to be so careful how we teach our children when it comes to obedience and right choices. We have to be careful not to set the trap that was set for me. Because they might choose all the “right” things and still end up in a very broken situation.
I’ve struggled for years to understand how a girl could sit in the pew 3 times a week for 18 years and be so TOTALLY lost.
I knew scripture. I knew what God wanted me to do or not do. I could easily walk anyone through the Roman Road to salvation. I believed IN God. But I never believed Him. And honestly, much of that had to do with the teaching of the church. (Now don’t be getting all uptight, there will be no church-bashing here.) But I think it’s important to recognize that God is more than rules and blessing. He isn’t a genie in a bottle who comes out to grant my wishes, or an insurance policy to fix something when the heat gets turned up.
What I missed growing up was that God truly is my everything. I missed that He has amazing plans for me (Rom. 8:28). I missed that if I am filled with Him, I can be filled with nothing else (Eph. 5:18).
I missed that my choices, decisions, and behaviors should all be weighed in the light of His Word.
So I’ve purposed to make sure my children don’t miss it. At least not on account of not being told. I desperately want them to understand that every single thing they do matters to God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
And that’s where discipline comes in. You see, how we handle life’s problems is very important. As parents, we need to support our children when they struggle and that includes discipline issues.
So let’s say the children are in the backyard fighting. Rather than bring them inside and give them a hearty lecture about how embarrassing that is (ya know, in front of the whole neighborhood) and how wrong it is to fight with their siblings, I ask 3 simple questions.
3 Discipline Questions for Christian Kids
1. Who are you pleasing, yourself or God?
I address this question at length in Pointing a Defiant Child to God. It’s basically my first question in most situations with my kids. Truthfully, I have to ask myself this question a lot. It’s easy to lose sight of who we are aiming to please and focus on our own wants or desires.
2. How are you showing love right now?
This question is often a little more casual than #1. It’s a simple reminder to my children that they are commanded to show love to those around them. Many times, simply asking this question totally dissolves a petty argument. The world may say otherwise, but God says to ALWAYS put others above ourselves. That means we should always be ready to give up a treasured toy, share that bowl of ice cream, or choose an option that is less than desired because another person chose the one we wanted.
3. What kind of witness or example are you showing?
This is the question I would have asked my kids who were fighting in the yard. I take this very seriously and I want them to, as well. We are called to go and make disciples of all nations. That means we need to be witnesses in EVERYTHING we do. If the neighbors hear them fighting in the backyard, it’s easy to conclude that Christianity hasn’t made them any different. Oh, what a horrible conclusion!
Of course, it’s important that we don’t miss the purpose behind these questions. No condemnation. No shame. We simply want to help our kids learn to evaluate their choices, not in light of what makes mom and dad happy or in an effort to gain something in life, but in light of what pleases God.
What do you think? How do you redirect your children to God in these moments?
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