Gentleness

Taking care of my 88-year-old mom, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, reminds me of the days when my own kids were toddlers.  The fits. Her need for supervision.  Her efforts to do things independently despite the fact that she can’t.  The spills and accidents.  The need for repeated reminders.   Yesterday had been a particularly difficult day and I needed a fresh perspective, so I decided to replace my grumpy attitude by trying to be grateful instead and by focusing on what God was doing within me in this journey with my mom.   “Thank you for these moments with my mom and thank you for using this time to grow my patience and gentleness,” I wrote in my journal. Immediately as I penned these words, it dawned on me that being gentle was exactly what God was perfecting in me.  Just like with my own kids, being impatient and reacting harshly served only to breed fear and insecurity.  I need to be more gentle. Like Jesus.  Isaiah 40:11 speaks of his gentle nature, stating “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”    King David proclaims in Psalm 18:35 that “Your gentleness made me great.”  I reflected back to yesterday when I had reminded my mom, again, to put her dirty clothes in the laundry hamper and not her dirty tissues. To be sure, I had reminded her a bit sternly, having grown impatient over her daily practice of filling her laundry basket with soiled tissues and...

Mini Blog #7: Teaching Kids to Comply with Expectations: Your Approach Makes All the Difference.

The past few blogs have centered on annoying habits such as interrupting, arguing, screaming, whining and complaining. How much of your daily parental efforts wind up being thwarted by these disruptive behaviors? Just think how differently your home would feel if your children instead learned to wait their turn, to thoughtfully express their emotions and to respectfully state their needs and wants! Does that sound too good to be possible? It shouldn’t be. Kids can and should learn these skills but your approach will make all the difference in (1) what actually transpires as well as (2) whether their improvements in behavior flow from a heart change or merely in order to get what they want, to avoid punishment or to gain your approval. We can threaten and bribe. We can yell and scream. We can try to scare them into compliance. But we might lose their hearts in the process and that’s a steep price to pay. In Ephesians 6:4 we are told to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord Jesus. What does that practically look like?  This is what I imagine: Gentle but not weak Consistent but not legalistic Gracious but holding to standards Patient but not excusing Corrective but not criticizing Self-controlled but not controlling Which of these speaks to you today? Recently for me it’s been the concept of gentleness. To be gentle, yet not weak. The opposite of gentle is to be harsh. Irritable. Severe. When I am running late or get inconvenienced, when I am feeling discouraged or disappointed, gentleness does not come easy. These are vulnerable times for me...

Teachable Words

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.  Proverbs 15: 1-2 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.  Proverbs 15: 28 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.  Proverbs 16:21. One of the greatest frustrations for parents is training up a child who lacks a teachable spirit. Actually a know-it-all, whether he is 5 or she is 85, is not a fun person to be around. One of the most influential ways we encourage or discourage a teachable heart is the manner in which we address mistakes.  Criticism – looking at things as they are and pointing out faults – denotes disapproval and prompts a child (or any recipient) to fester inside with shame and anger.  Criticism encourages a child to avoid a relationship out of fear of being disapproved of.  (It works the same in a marriage).    Critical words are rarely teachable words because they tend to be met by walls erected to ward off the sting and deflect the blow. Criticizing others is often self serving. Oswald Chambers said it like this:   “Criticism serves only to make us harsh and leaves us with the soothing and flattering idea that we are somehow superior to others.”  Criticizing and scolding are easy ineffective short cuts in disciplining children. Correction on the other hand is about taking something away and replacing it with something better.  It recognizes what is wrong but focuses...