On the Consistent Disciplining of Children (Because I Need the Consistent Reminder to Be Consistent)


On the Consistent Disciplining of Children

(Because I Need the Consistent Reminder to Be Consistent)

Oh, what a blessed irony it is to write about disciplining children while currently feeling as though some of my own efforts are pressing up against a brick wall. It’s a blessed irony because the Lord tells us not to grow weary in well-doing; it’s also a good reminder that all my efforts are just that, my efforts and faithfulness, and only that. As parents, it’s our job to plant the seed, water, and tend the soil in the hearts of our children. But it is God who gives us the seed in the first place, the seed in which He has miraculously placed His design for growth - with proper and diligent care, in due season. It’s only by His power that growth will happen. Still, He requires consistent labor from us.

Recently, I had been silently bemoaning my inconsistency in disciplining a certain child of mine. However, the inconsistency in me was not a failure to address these ungodly behaviors, rather, it was an inconsistency to stick with the same method of discipline long enough to see if it would produce any fruit. And herein lies the issue: without wisdom and discernment from the Lord, when we don’t see the fruits of our labor, we cannot know whether we’re exercising futility or whether our efforts, by God’s grace, are indeed cultivating evidence of grace in the hearts of our children through that discipline.

My tendency is to switch methods too quickly because when I don’t see fruitful change I must be doing something wrong. But how easily I forget that growth happens long before we see it. Depending on the variety, it can take a seed weeks to germinate and a tender shoot to sprout. How much longer still until a plant matures to produce fruit! Surely there are times when changes must be made before there is any hope of helping our children feel the mercy of conviction. But more often than not, when we remain faithful and loving in our discipline, all the while consistent, that is when change is happening. Consistency, by nature, can only be revealed over the course of time.

It might be a long while before visible signs of heart change are seen as a result of discipline, but that doesn’t mean the cultivating ceases. It also doesn’t mean that uprooting everything and starting over with some more relevant, pragmatic “proven disciplinary method with failsafe results” we saw on a blog post or Pinterest board will mean that growth will be visible sooner. In fact, it could stunt, damage, or altogether destroy what good was being done with our previous simple consistency. We too often forget that doing anything worthwhile takes time.

The reward of faithfulness in the disciplinary well-doing of our children comes long after that first sprout of change is seen. The season between seedtime and harvest can tend to lose its wonder as we do the daily, diligent, and often mundane work required to maintain an optimal growing and maturing environment for our children. But isn’t it also a beautiful irony that the Lord uses the same work of faithfulness to discipline our children and cultivate consistent perseverance in us at the same time? He truly does all things well!

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9