Does your discipline seem to push your child away or draw them in? When you’ve corrected your children, do they soften their hearts or harden their necks? Join AMBrewster for a discussion about the type of discipline that softens the heart.
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Click "Read More" for today’s Episode Notes and Transcript.
Thank you for joining us today.
On episode 74 —right smack in the middle of our series on Peaceful Parenting — we discussed “Punishment Versus Correction.” I recommend you give it a listen if you haven’t already.
It’s very important we parents understand the difference between punishment and correction and grasp what biblical discipline looks like.
We also did a series on The Four Children on episodes 55 through 59. During that discussion we talked about how the Hard-Hearted Child, the Rocky-Hearted Child, and the Thorny-Hearted Child all need the soil of their hearts cultivated. We all want Soft-Hearted Children, and though we don’t have direct control over the softening process, we do play a very important role.
Today, we’re expanding on those two subjects with the topic, “Discipline that Softens the Heart.”
But we’ll get to that in just a minute.
Do you remember when Natasha Crain visited us for a three part series on children’s devotionals, her first book “Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side,” and a parenting Q&A? It was a fantastic discussion; I highly suggest you hop over to episodes 65 to 67 and check them out.
Well, I’m honored to say that I was invited with a large group of like-minded individuals to join the launch team for her new book, “Talking with Your Kids about God.” Let me start by saying that it’s an amazing read with rich material and oh-so-helpful conversation starters and guides. I can’t wait to share this resource with you when it’s finally in stores.
But I wanted to take a minute and share some sweet things Natasha’s been saying about TLP on social media. She’s posted a couple times recently and said,
She also said,
We want to say a big thank you to Natasha for spreading the Word about TLP, but we want to thank her even more for the work she’s doing in training us parents to become Christian apologists and helping us train our children to be the same.
And I want to say thank you to those of you who swung on by because of Natasha’s encouragement. We hope you stick around and are blessed by your visit.
Okay, so what kind of discipline softens the heart?
I’d like to make an application from just one passage today. It’s not definitive command or even super-clear principle. But as I studied this verse and compared it with my parenting (both personal and professional), I was struck with what I believe to be an important observation.
While participating in a joint counseling session I came upon Proverbs 29:1 and read, “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”
Let’s consider carefully what God’s communicating here.
First, please note that the Hebrew word translated “reproof” can also be translated “correct” or “punish.” This gives us an understanding of the type of discipline going on here.
Second, the main admonition of the verse is actually being given to the individual receiving the reproof. God wants us to understand that stiffening our necks when reproved leads only to brokenness. And not just any brokenness, but one so deep that we may be “beyond healing.” I can’t help but think of Pharaoh. Dear God, please protect our children from hearts that hard.
But there’re also two take-aways for the reprovers as well. First, the verse presents the repeated reproof in a positive light. The language leaves us with the feeling that the frequent reproof should have lead the person to change and growth; which is why daring to stiffen one’s neck in such a situation would have such painful consequences.
The second observation for the reprover is that the reproof is not the cause of the stiff neck. Instead, like with Pharaoh and God, the individual being reproved chooses to stiffen his neck. The reproof is actually designed to soften hearts, only a defiant act of self-willed rebellion can repeatedly harden a heart against Christ-honoring discipline.
I believe those four points are clear and obvious from the text, and probably aren’t lost on any of us.
But my fifth and final point is a little step away from the text. I want to be clear that what I’m about to say is biblically accurate, but it’s also not stated in as many words. Therefore, you can feel free to take it or leave it.
However, I’d encourage you to listen hard before making a decision.
I want to discuss the word “often.” The verse addresses “he who is often reproved.”
We’ve already observed that this frequent reproof should have been valuable, but I’d like to state that frequent reproof over a period of time has better chances of softening a heart than a few big reproofs.
Before I flesh this out, I do want to point out that discipline sometimes has to be stark and drastic and significant and painful. Again, I encourage you to listen to episode 74. We want to make certain our discipline fits the infraction, and occasionally the sinful behavior will require a more dramatic consequence.
This is true of much of the punishment God’s had to do over the ages — and especially true of the End Times.
But this is not the type of parenting any of us want to do, or — I believe — God’s calling us to do.
Often times we parents find ourselves dishing out heavy-handed discipline because we haven’t done a good job keeping a steady diet of discipline before our children.
We get distracted and we miss a bunch of “little sins” that accumulate and our reproof comes when we’ve finally “had enough” of a certain behavior.
But this type of discipline sends all the wrong messages.
Now, imagine you’re an immature, selfish child. When your authority’s sending mixed messages, acting hypocritically, and really is only interested in you not getting in their way . . . how likely are you to want to receive that harsh reproof?
Again, the child is responsible for their own actions, but we parents need to come to grips with the fact that we often tempt our children to fail, and — in this situation — we actually take the moments that God created to be redemptive and make it easier for our children to harden their hearts.
Now, consider the alternative.
As an intentional, premeditated parent, you strive in the power of God to consistently stay on top of all sinful behavior no matter how culturally “small” it may seem. You deliver just and gracious discipline that points your children to their ultimate authority — God. Yes, there will be times when your children’t choices will call for drastic consequences, but these heavy-handed times of discipline are built on a foundation of consistent, Christ-honoring parenting.
I’ve observed that when parents offer consistent, godly, and frequent reproof their children are far more prone to respond with a soft heart and relaxed neck. And the children who don’t respond correctly display a heart of rebellion so deep that it’s no surprise their lives lead to ruin with no remedy.
And, though this particular verse doesn’t teach what I’m suggesting, I’d like to challenge you to peruse the popular parenting passages, read the examples set by godly parents, and even study how God reproves His children. I believe you’ll find parents who provide much reproof, not little.
No one wants their children to harden their hearts. So, let’s work to make our homes a place where God can work to soften their hearts.
Let’s strive to use discipline that softens.
I hope today’s episode notes are helpful for you. You can find the link in today’s description.
In preparation for our one year anniversary we’re going to study our theme verse on our next episode. Please join us on Friday for that episode.
And I hope you’re ready to sign up for our first Truth.Love.Parenting Course called “25 Days to Becoming a Premeditated Parent.” It’s an email-based program designed to help you grow as you help your children grow.
God’s given you an awesome responsibility. You’ve been called to help your children be conformed to the image of God. Make certain that everything you do — including your discipline — challenges your kids and calls them to submit their hearts to Him.
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