Children take focus.
How many times do we find ourselves frustrated with our children?
If we have young children who are into EVERYTHING, that frustration may be more often than we care to admit. If we have older children who are struggling with hormones and wild emotional swings, we may find frustrations cropping up in us more than when they were young.
The reality is, when we get bugged with our children, it is usually because we have expectations for our lives that our children have interrupted. We:
- wanted no arguing
- thought the house should stay tidy for an entire hour in a row
- just wanted to have a nap FOR ONCE without being woken up with crying or something breaking
And the problem with this is what?
The problem is that we are looking at our lives as if they were OUR LIVES. I am not meaning this to sound in the least bit trite, but in fact, our lives belong to God.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Cor 6:19-20
We often think about this verse in reference to drinking or smoking or premarital sex. But it holds true in our attitudes toward our children as well. God owns our bodies and every part of our lives, even what we think of as our right to a nap or a tidy house or an uninterrupted hour.
God calls us to a different focus.
Alright. But frustrations happen. So how DO we deal with our frustration when our children get on our nerves? I wish I could give you a quick fix – take a pill or say a magic word. But this is part of the sanctification process in our lives. It takes work. We work to change our mindset. We seek the Spirit’s strength to develop His focus in our lives.We grow in one more area of dying to self and walking in the power of Jesus.
This is what I was told as a young mom:
Our children’s actions are not an inconvenience to our lives,
they are an opportunity to train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Well, THAT smacked me upside the head when I first heard it! Did you catch that? Our children are not an inconvenience to our lives. Their attitude problems, their pesky getting into everything (I had a daughter, who shall be nameless, who washed her hair in the toilet with Vaseline!), their bickering – all of these things are NOT inconveniences to our lives. Each one of these (and more) are the OPPORTUNITIES God opened up for us to train our children in righteousness and godliness.
The Truth about training our children.
In all of this it is vital that we understand that discipline is just a small part of training our children. Very often, we think it is ALL there is to training. We mete out some quick discipline and assume that we’ve done a great job and have adjusted our children’s attitudes.
Nope, not in the least!
That part was to let them know that their behavior was unacceptable. NOW we need to teach and train them in what is the PROPER behavior or speech or response. We need to teach and train them to obey:
Not to make our lives easier or to have people tell us, “What well-behaved children you have.” If that is our end goal then we have COMPLETELY missed the goal of grace God has for us and our children. We must seek to help them understand the joy of living in submission to the Lord – they learn to obey us as a stepping stone to living a life of faith and surrender to their Wonderful Heavenly Father and Lord!
Training is about us helping them over and over again to practice right behaviors. It is going on the offense and not just responding defensively. It is working on a plan to build godly and healthy responses into our children. Teaching them what it looks like to walk in the love of Jesus with others. Helping them learn to let go of their selfish agendas. Definitely not an easy task for them (goodness, it isn’t an easy task for ME!)
Training our children is discipling not just disciplining.
Think about discipling. It is teaching all that Jesus commanded. We share scriptures with those we disciple. We teach them grace and freedom from sin. We work to show them the joy of the Word and the blessings of letting the Spirit work it out in our lives.
The very same thing is true with our children. You may need to have them practice what to say or how to behave. You may need to memorize scripture together to help them understand the heart of God AND to give the Holy Spirit fuel to touch deeply into their hearts with His convicting power. You need to be quick to correct (not always with discipline) and quick to forgive and quick to love them. This is all part of the training of our children.
How often do we think about training our children as DISCIPLING our children? Not often, if at all. But that is exactly what we are doing! We are making disciples by
“…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)
When we think of it that way, it sheds a whole different light on the subject!
So as you go on with your life today, every time you find yourself getting irritated with your children say to yourself, “this is not an inconvenience to my life, it is an opportunity to train my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!” When we do that, the irritation fades as God fills us with an understanding of our calling for eternity!
All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.
Photo from unsplash @monroefiles