Bible Verse: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:23-24
Few things exemplify discipline like a team from the United States Marines Corps performing a silent rifle drill.
Polished patent leather shoes, crisp white gloves, and stoic expressions proclaim their readiness. Even while motionless, their discipline is evident. Once the marching begins, the soldiers work in perfect unison. Bayonet-tipped rifles flip within inches of their faces, yet no one flinches. Everyone on the team is precisely where they need to be, when they need to be there.
Their performance is the culmination of countless hours of training and strict adherence to the instructions and corrections of their squad leader. This leader is their model, not just someone who yells at them when they mess up. He is there every step of the way, taking the same risks, and helping them achieve their best.
The English word for discipline comes from the Latin word discipulus, or disciple. A disciple is a student.
Effective discipline is not just about punishment and stopping bad behavior, but also about developing good behavior. And disciples need teachers.
When God disciplines His children, His goal is to train us to perfection. He wants to strip away everything within us that misses the mark, every sin that keeps us from the life that He intended for us. He walks alongside of us, holding up a standard of perfection for us to strive towards. When He sees something out of step, He offers correction. Sometimes His correction is gentle and sometimes it hurts, but it is always done for our betterment in the context of relationship.
When God disciplined Adam and Eve, there was pain, but the pain had a purpose. It reminded them of their need to rely on God and trust His word. God’s discipline enhanced their relationship.
To father like the Father, our discipline must be about discipleship. We must take a long-term view of our children’s development and work to bring out their best. Our punishments must inflict enough pain to be effective, but not so much that we encourage hiding. If we are too harsh, we may succeed in forcing compliance in the short term yet lose the ability to speak into our children’s lives long-term.
We must also keep in mind that while a father can be a friend to his children, he is a father first. If we are too passive, we might lose the respect necessary to have any positive influence.
A good father will walk with his children as an example, and apply discipline as needed to help them grow to be all they were made to be.
Pray that God will help you to walk in a manner worthy of your child’s emulation, and for wisdom as you disciple them.
— Carlos Santiago is a senior writer for FamilyLife. For more information on this topic, listen to 4 Reasons You Should Intentionally Disciple Your Children.