I was meditating upon how God taught me to parent my children. When I was younger He gave me a simple approach: strict discipline and constant value and love.
Because of what He showed me, I have a great value for spanking. Spanking give me direct access to the hearts of my children when their hearts have been far from me. Now that two of my children are in middle school and… my youngest, my most outgoing daughter, is in elementary school, I find that I don’t have to do very much spanking. All of my children are open to me, all of my children are anxious for my love and desire to please me. And the biggest reason that they live this way, is because they know that their mother and I love them unconditionally and will always love them unconditionally. They can find comfort in our arms even when they have felt rejected by everybody else. And they prefer our comfort because our love does not change.
What I’m actually trying to do, is impart my value, my beliefs, and more importantly, the image that I get from Father, into their hearts. I’m trying to transform them from selfish and insecure, to loving and self-sacrificing. Just like all parents, I’m literally trying to do with my children what God does with us.I know that my approach was from God because I have some of the most loving, most giving and most spiritual children of anyone I have ever met. Even my youngest, my strong-willed child, is obedient and desires to show love to people.
So my thought is: if God gave me this approach for my children, then it must be His approach to parenting us.
There are two prevailing perspectives on parenting. One is focused on strict discipline, and the other is focused on building self-esteem. Many people struggle merging those two perspectives.
It is also true that there are two perspectives on God. Some see Him as a strict disciplinarian who demands obedience, and others see Him as full of Grace who never disciplines but woos us into His embrace by love. The fact is there’s truth in both of these perspectives.
I am not able to change my children by discipline. I am only able to gain access to their hearts by discipline when their hearts have been far from me. The transformation of their character occurs through the love I give them. It is not for the discipline I give them. Therefore discipline has only one purpose, to give me access to their heart. This is why so few parents are able to merge these concepts. They see it as either discipline that changes their children or love alone that changes their children and have rejected the other concept.
But how does God discipline? Most people believe that God disciplines us by life’s circumstances, and there is a measure of truth in that. But the truth is not that God is directly authoring trouble for our life, in fact that would be contrary to His nature. Jesus said, “if you ask for bread, will God give you a stone?” God does not send trouble and disease your way just to discipline you. But He does allow you to get yourself into trouble so that you can see His goodness. So you can see that He is better than just being independent.
For the Christian, He has given us His spiritual authority on the earth. This means that the life and death you speak will impact your environment. He says, “The power of life and death is in the tongue.” This is your tongue. One of God’s best ways of discipline is by giving you the power to speak death into your environment, or life. If you don’t have His nature, the only thing you will be releasing is death.
But God also has other methods of discipline. He has those in spiritual authority, and He has His own ability to speak to our hearts and our consciences and tell us what the truth is and love us into His embrace. God has more direct access to our hearts than any parent has.
Imagine a situation where your child is dealing with a bully at school. What if your child desires to fight back? If your child does fight back, and over reacts by punching a child just for calling him or her names, Then your child has overreacted and is probably going to need you to disciplined. But what if you could have access to your child’s heart and mold the way they respond to this bully? What if you could teach your child to show this bully God’s love even in the face of meanness? What if you could teach your child to kill hatred with kindness?
In order for you to accomplish this mythical feat, you would need direct access to your child’s heart. You would need for your child to be able to expose their fears, and all of their insecurities about the situation. You would need to be able to build your child’s identity up, to make him or her strong in the face of adversity.
This, talking through insecurities and fears, is God’s preferred method of discipline. He desires and we would expose every fear and every insecurity so that He can talk us through it and begin releasing truth and new identity into who we are.
Most people are looking for God to protect them from the world. They have been so beaten up and so destroy that they no longer believe they can handle anything. They see themselves as failures. But God does not mold us into His image so that we can hide from the world. God is not offering us protection from the world, He is offering us the ability to overcome every obstacle that comes our way.
But, in order to move into a lifestyle of overcoming, we have to get past the brokenness of our past realizing that this is no longer who we are. We have to stop approaching God as if He is a bad father. We have to believe, and trust Him to mold us into an image that overcomes. This means we have to surrender, to abandon ourselves into His parenting and stop fighting Him.