Avoid These 4 Common Parenting Mistakes

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.

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him
is diligent to discipline him.
— Prov 13:24

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:

  1. We do not discipline our children.
  2. We discipline for too long.
  3. We try to reason with our children too early.
  4. We do not disciple our children.
My son, give me your heart,
and let your eyes observe my ways.
— Prov 23:26

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.


How to Prepare Your Children for Greatness

I cannot play basketball like Michael Jordan or the violin like Itzhak Perlman. Neither can you. What did they have that I do not? Why could they perform the way they did while I am only skilled enough at their craft to watch? In the first place they had the gifts for it. Built into the genetic formula for these two very different men was a treasure of giftedness few people have.

Another difference between these two men and the rest of us is the time and effort they put into developing those gifts. While you and I were watching television as children, Michael Jordan at the same age was dribbling and shooting baskets. Itzhak Perlman was practicing his scales and double stops. They invested their freedom in disciplined practice of their skills while most of us were using up our freedom at something else. Ultimately they had the freedom to perform as one in a million can, while the rest of us are not free to do that.

My guess is that somebody, somewhere along the way, helped these two stars with their training. No matter what his gifts, everyone needs help. They were taught the basic principles of their craft, the technique for every skill they would need. And they practiced. They practiced hours. They practiced devotedly. They were driven to practice insatiably while other young people were making softer decisions about their time.

. . . You have to choose what you will be good at because you can be good at only a very few things.
— Wayne McDill, 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching

It is not too late.

It is not too late to devote your life to a great thing. Find what God built into you to do. Pick something that brings glory to God and changes peoples lives. I may not be something that earns you lots of money or fame. That doesn’t matter. Do it for God. Do it for love.

Aside from how personally challenging this is, I am also asking myself some questions as a parent.

  • Am I giving my children a vision for greatness and excellence?
  • Am I helping my children identify the gifts and talents God has given them?
  • Am I empowering them to develop these insatiably for God’s glory?
  • Am I expecting more from them than the average expectation of our culture?
  • Am I teaching them the fundamental truths of discipline and freedom?
  • Am I encouraging my children to invest their freedom instead of making softer decisions?
They invested their freedom in disciplined practice of their skills while most of us were using up our freedom at something else. Ultimately they had the freedom to perform as one in a million can.
— Wayne McDill

Freedom is not the absence of discipline;
Freedom is the fruit of discipline

Steps 5-8 for How to Help Your Children Become Self-Motivated [Podcast #12]

Here is the third and last episode in the podcast series about How to Help Your Children Become Self-Motivated. This is part of the recording of a workshop I presented at the annual North Carolinians for Home Education Conference 2014.

The first part is Foundations for Helping Your Children Become Self-Motivated [Podcast #10]. The second part is Steps 1-4 for How to Help Your Children Become Self-Motivated [Podcast #11].

You can return to the notes post for the entire workshop to view and download the notes or view the prezi.

I would love to hear your comments and questions, so please leave a comment here or send your question to matthew@truthtofreedom.org!

The Power of Discipline and Love

I just uploaded my teaching from Sunday at Highland Christian Fellowship. It is a continuation of the series from 1 Corinthians 16 on Doing the Work of the Lord. In it I share some of my most life changing moments in learning to be disciplined and learning to love. I also explain the vision and purpose of our fellowship. Listen to it in the Teaching Audio player on the right sidebar or here.

Genesis 19: Lot the Loser

Lot was a despicable man. When begging the men of Sodom not to ask for his angelic guests, he offered his own virgin daughter for them to have their way! He reasoned that he was responsible for the men since they “have come under the shelter of my roof.” Are his daughters not even more so under the shelter of his roof? What a gross failure to value, love, and protect his daughters. I would hate to think how he cared for them each day if he would do this. It seems that men should fight and sacrifice to protect their women and children. Then, in the face of grave warnings, Lot lingered in the city. He clearly had allowed his heart to be poisoned by the flesh and sin of the city. He had trouble pulling away. The fact that he dwelt here at all is an obvious statement about his judgment. His wife also had been hooked, evidenced by her disregard for the warning not to look back.

After escaping with only his two daughters, Lot lived in fear. His fear was first revealed when he asked the men not to make him go to the hills. Ultimately, though, fear drove him out of the city to live in a cave. To live in fear is not just cowardly, but a revelation of Lot's lack of relationship with and trust in the Lord.

The scheming of his daughters, in addition to the heart of his wife, also reveals the quality of Lot and how he had failed to teach them the ways of God and his care for them. The abhorrence of Lot is finally emphasized by the ease with which his daughters were able to get him drunk and sleep with him.

Lot was a selfish, cowardly, irresponsible, foolish, fleshly, gullible, undisciplined man. And although I despise him, I pity him. Most of all, I am shaken by the fact that we all have the capacity to come to such a condition. May I entrust myself to God and obey and trust him. May I bravely teach, care for, and protect my family. May I maintain a heart of purity and a disciplined mind and body. May I be alert to evil, danger, and temptation.