Parents have been given the responsibility and authority to discipline and disciple their children (Eph 6:4). But it is critical that we move from discipline to discipleship. Leading our children to surrender their hearts to Christ is the goal (discipleship) not behavior modification (discipline). This charts demonstrates the movement.
Discipline is the use of external motivation to teach and control behavior (Prov 13:24). This starts very high at the beginning of life and decreases until our children are self-motivated adults. Discipleship is when we lead by example and teach our children to submit their own hearts to Christ (Prov 23:26). There are four ways we often do not follow this flow:
- We do not discipline our children.
- We discipline for too long.
- We try to reason with our children too early.
- We do not disciple our children.
Our ultimate goal in parenting is to raise mature, Christ loving believers. That cannot be accomplished through discipline. It is not a matter of behavior; it is a matter of love and faith. We can only influence our children to submit their hearts to Christ through a relationship of trust and love.
A really challenging part of parenting is the crossroad on this chart. From my experience this crossroads occurs somewhere around 11yr to 14 yrs of age. How can we successfully make this transition? RELATIONSHIP. Invest in your children. Spend time with them. Invite them into a discipleship relationship in which you can explain and exemplify what it looks like to follow Jesus.