Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Single Bit of Advice for Married Parents

A dear sister in the Lord, after waiting years to adopt a child, will have her daughter soon. This sister is preparing a "book of advice" from Christian fathers. What I was able to share is something that I've thought for many years and didn't practice nearly well enough, but when I was asked for advice this and only this came to mind... (The names have been changed but nothing else.)

Brother Mike,

I’ve seen a tendency more in fathers, though present in mothers too, of sometimes disciplining their children out of irritation without regard to the gospel. Let me try to explain... Imagine a child being annoying until the father erupts and finally scolds his child in anger. The child ends up being silenced, and rightly so, but by a father who simply wants his child to be quiet so that he can find some peace. In cases such as these, the father disciplines his child only because he doesn’t want to be annoyed any longer. End of story... End of sad, sad story... A corrected child, a satisfied father and no display of the gospel. God is removed from the training process once again.

What I believe we as fathers should do is discipline our children for the their sake and more importantly for God’s glory. Such discipline never looks like what is described above. Such discipline will take time, even more time than we care to expend, especially when we want peace NOW. If the child is behaving in a way that is annoying, it may be because he is sinning (that is what children do best) by not being concerned about others around him. In such cases, the child needs to be shown in patience, without delay and certainly before eruption, that he is breaking the principle of the fifth commandment, to consider others more important – more significant ESV, than oneself. (Philippians 2:3) Then the child is in need, dire need, of being shown the way of the gospel - that of seeking forgiveness for sin, both on the vertical and horizontal plane.

Take the time, my brother, to lead Carolyn to seek your forgiveness, Janet's forgiveness, and that of the Father’s. Lead her to the gracious forgiveness we have in Christ. Use what so many consider mild infractions, not worthy of more than a barked-out command to stop, to teach Carolyn why she needs a Savior, and that in Christ she can find pardon from a loving and gracious Father. All that to say, do take the time to show God’s love to your daughter by showing her the loving cost of her salvation. This will take time but good, gospel fruit will be born which will be occasion for much rejoicing.

Even if the father does not get annoyed easily, which is what I would sense about you, maybe because of a high threshold for irritation, Carolyn must still be shown what courteous behavior entails and what bad behavior deserves. So even the more easy going of our sex, like probably yourself, still have the same marching orders as “the rest of us.” :) (Actually, my tendency would be to address an infraction quickly but not to be consistent in bringing the gospel to bear.) You’ll do fine Michael, just be sensitive to sin in your daughter’s life and more importantly God’s love for sinners.

In His grace,

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