But really--how many of us love discipline? How many of us in our standard American lifestyle truly love discipline? We surround ourselves with luxuries and pastimes, square screens and processed food. Work is not by the sweat of our brow, but mostly with our brains and fingers. We do not labor for our sustenance. The widening girth of our society is proof of all of this and it is called an epidemic, a disease.
Last week as we were away for the Thanksgiving holiday I spent a lot of time thinking, and discipline and leadership was one of the things that came to mind most frequently. I have struggled so often in our homeschooling journey, and even more in my physical fitness, to establish routines that will keep us accountable for the work that we need to accomplish. Getting up at an early hour, insisting that the whole family be in bed by a certain time, keeping a schedule of cleaning and housework (and maintaining the expectation that the kids will participate). I had a conversation with the family to this effect one evening. I pointed out to the kids that I could not have expectations of them that I myself am unwilling or unable to meet, and that from that point on I would not. From that point on, then, I was obligated to do what I said I would do, or not say it at all.
My father, who was not an exemplary man in the area of character modeling, used to tell us, "Do as I say, not as I do." Right! If we never spoke words of any kind to our children, they would still learn by following our actions, from brushing our teeth to helping the poor.
I have been watching my son in the last year change quickly from a child into an increasingly responsible young man. Admittedly, he is still a child, but he is taking on character qualities that so resemble his dad and me that it is both frightening and delightful. I find the following to be true of him: he is faithful to a task, he is responsible and caring for his little sister, he is a gentleman, he is thoughtful, he serves without complaining, he is affectionate, he has integrity and wisdom beyond his years. I won't list the negatives here, but he possesses qualities as well that shake me to my core, but these all reflect my flaws, so what can I say? Disciplining him for such flaws does no good at all if my actions are the same!
If I cannot spend serious, regular time in studying the Word of God, if I cannot find time to take care of my health and exercise regularly, I can hold no expectation that my children will see the need to do so in their lives as they grow. If I cannot control my tone of voice when I talk to them, I cannot rebuke them for their tone when they speak, without first repenting for setting that example. If I cannot take time to gently and lovingly hold affectionate conversation with them now when they are little, how can I expect them to want to do so with me when I am old? If I want my children to reach the highest goal I have for them, that of knowing God and pursuing a holy life, then I have to set the pace with them. I, as much as my son, need to heed the following:
Proverbs 3:11, 12
"My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves as a father the son in whom he delights."