A few months ago I was hanging outside in the back, stealing my neighbors lounge chair as the morning was settling in. It was one of those mornings where I was going to start my day off right, soaking in Jesus a midst nature. “Filling my cup” so I could be like one of those mom’s that write blogs and puts makeup on and does dishes, and picks up kids from school on time. So I figured God was on my side and I wanted a really great “quiet time” story. You know what I’m talking about, right? When you are talking to your friends and they are sharing how hard something is, or a marital struggle, and you can so nonchalantly interject, “In my quiet time this morning, Jesus brought me to this passage…” and your friends can then all stand in awe of your amazing self-discipline to be “In the Word” everyday, and not only strive to be like you, but are secretly jealous of your strong character. I have those days when I feel like I can be that mom, but they only happen once every six months or so.
I was absolutely irritated when God brought me to the book of…WAIT FOR IT…Amos. I mean who needs the book of Amos, unless you’re a Pastor. But obediently I read it [insert your jealousy]. I ended up being amazed at why God brought me to it, and now I want to bring you through it. But the way I want to teach you about Amos is in regards to how we discipline our children. I know I can get lots of hate mail and death threats from this, but I think it’s worth a look. And you will soon see why.
You see I have this rub with lots of ways people parent these days. Most parents want to negotiate, and logical-ize with their children. They want their kids to always feel heard and loved and accepted and secure. They are willing to overlook serious sin (from God’s perspective) because they don’t want their kids to “feeeeel” bad or ” feeeeeel” rejected. Parents often parent out of fear…fear of the future….fear of lost relationship….fear of responsibility of how their kids turn out. I talk to lots of moms who don’t know how to handle their child’s direct disobedience, or temper tantrums. They are baffled at a child’s lack of respect and regard for them as an authority. They just don’t know what to do. And often times, when I suggest discipline, I get a deer in the headlights look. Or worse, “that just won’t work on my kid.”
More often than not, when I have parenting conversations with my husband, most of my parenting follies come down to my own mommy/daddy unresolved issues. I over compensate for what I didn’t get when I was a child or I fear my children won’t understand the depth of my love for them. Granted, you may parent that way as well. You and I have also bought into a bunch of psycho-babble hype on how to “raise” your kids. Don’t get me wrong, I promote some psychological ways to bring kids to a place of safety in hopes of changing their behavior. But as Christian parents we are all missing the Ark if we aren’t willing to look to the Bible for true parenting instruction.
God called us his children, and he called Israel his Children. He dealt with them as a father would his child. With strict measures, clear cut laws and boundaries, but with a willingness to extend grace. We want to see the loving and mercy-filled God in our lives, and want to mimic that for our children. Often times we skip over the justice parts, like the people in the book of Amos, because it’s just too hard and today’s society just wouldn’t accept it.
If you are brave enough to enter into God’s presence and are willing enough to allow me to navigate you, I think you might be surprised that discipline in the Bible goes beyond spare the rod and spoil the child. Our relationship with God as a just Father can pour into our parenting our children, if only we let it.
Starting MONDAY you can read